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Cassius Clay's Online Memorial Photo

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Memorial Biography

Muhammad Ali was born January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. His interest in boxing began at age 12. Over the next six years, Clay won six Kentucky Golden Gloves championships, two National Golden Gloves championships and two National Amateur Athletic Union titles. Just months after he turned 18, Clay won a gold medal as a light heavyweight at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, convincingly beating an experienced Polish fighter in the final. The story goes that when he returned to a hometown parade, even with the medal around his neck, he was refused service in a segregated Louisville restaurant because of his race. According to several reports, he threw the medal into a river out of anger. The story is disputed by people who say Ali misplaced the medal. Thirty-six years later, he was given a replacement medal and asked to light the cauldron at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, something he said was one of the greatest honors in his athletic career. Clay turned professional after the 1960 Olympics and quickly won 19 straight fights. For many of them, Clay -- then known as "The Louisville Lip" -- would make a rhyme to predict in what round his opponent would fall. The former world heavyweight champion died late on Friday at a hospital in the US city of Phoenix, Arizona, having been admitted on Thursday. He had been suffering from a respiratory illness, a condition that was complicated by Parkinson's disease. Ali's funeral will take place in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, said his family.