American boxing legend Muhammad Ali sadly passed away on 3 June in Pheonix, Arizona – aged 74 – after suffering septic shock following a respiratory condition.
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on January 17 1942, Ali went on to become one of the most celebrated athletes of all time as an inspiration to millions worldwide. The champ also broke a number of noteworthy records in his sport.
To pay tribute to the boxing legend’s passing, Guinness World Records here takes a look at some of the incredible records Muhammad Ali achieved over his glittering fighting career.
Ali first picked up the gloves aged 12 years old and won his first world heavyweight championship by defeating Sonny Liston (USA) in 1964, aged just 22.
Following the win, Ali took a four-year hiatus from boxing while he played a public and controversial part in the opposition to the Vietnam War. Ali was stripped of his championship title by the world boxing authorities on 28 April 1967 as a result of his involvement.
However, the cultural icon fought back and regained his world heavyweight champion title against George Foreman (USA) in the famous 1974 bout “The Rumble in the Jungle”.
Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier
Muhammad (left) fights Joe Frazier (right) at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1974. Ali won this bout, earning him his title shot against George Foreman.
His third amazing championship win came against Leon Spinks (USA) in 1978. Spinks won a first match in February with a shock points win, but Ali revenged this defeat seven months later in a rematch, beating Spinks on points to set a brand new record for the Most lineal World Heavyweight championship wins ever.
Muhammad Ali
As a result of these wins, Muhammad “The Greatest” Ali earned a Guinness World Records title for the Most heavyweight world title recaptures - a record he currently holds alongside two other renowned boxers: Evander Holyfield (USA) and Lennox Lewis (UK).
Ali’s historic fight against George Foreman in 1974 was one of the sportsman’s most famous, high-profile matches. The event saw Ali beat the undefeated world heavyweight champion by knockout. A black and white robe worn by Ali before the 'Rumble in the Jungle' fight fetched a staggering US$157,947 (£97,800) when it was sold in Beverly Hills, California, USA in October 1997, setting a record as the Most expensive boxing memorabilia ever.
Ali hung up his gloves four years later, in 1981, when his health started to deteriorate.
Muhammad Ali robe most expensive boxing memorabilia
The record-breaking boxer has appeared in numerous Guinness World Records books over the years. In 1972 he was featured in the sports section for having made the largest fortune in a boxing career, with a huge $8,000,000 (pictured below). (Currently the Highest annual earnings for an athlete ever is a record held by world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr (USA), who banked an estimated $300 million (£190.8 million) in the year leading up to June 2015.)
Muhammad Ali in 1972 Guinness World Records book
The inspirational boxer, who was often nicknamed ‘The People’s Champion’, was also heavily involved in the Largest petition (in person). The Jubilee 2000 was an international movement which called for the cancellation of unpayable debts owed by the world's poorest countries by the end of the year 2000. It began in April 1997, and by the time it was finally handed over to Kofi Annan at the UN Millennium summit in New York at the end of 2000, the number of signatories had reached 24, 319,181 from 166 countries. Muhammad Ali was one of the campaigns most high-profile supporters.
Muhammad Ali in Guinness World Records 2001 book
Muhammad Ali will live on in the history books, where his incredible sporting achievements will continue to inspire generations. The world will always remember the first boxer to become heavyweight champion of the world three times.