SI looks back at nearly 50 years of Muhammad Ali coverage as the former heavyweight champion celebrates his 70th birthday on Jan. 17.
• Fast Talk And A Slow Fight By Huston Horn, July 31, 1961A brash young Olympic champion gets his eighth straight professional victory, but shows little flair and less power.
•Who Made Me -- Is Me!By Huston Horn, September 25, 1961This claim is made by Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., a bubbling young boxer whose nerve is colossal and whose modest aim is to knock the heavyweight crown off Floyd Patterson's head.
•Cautious Comes Of AgeBy Gilbert Rogin, October 16, 1961Cassius Clay, the heavyweight prodigy who is called Cautious by his trainer, was anything but in Louisville last week. He knocked out Alex Miteff and showed he can fight almost as much as he can talk.
•The Eleven Men Behind Cassius ClayBy Huston Horn, March 11, 1963Innocent of prizefighting's bad old ways, these gentlemen hope by their example to put an end to the exploiting of boxers. They expect Clay to get rich� and to get a little bit richer themselves.
•The Baddest Of All Looks Over The UniverseBy Tex Maule, February 15, 1965Muhammad Ali impishly predicts that he will hold his title even against the moon. More seriously, he offers shrewd observations on Patterson's comeback and the heavyweight outlook.
•A Quick, Hard Right And A Needless Storm Of ProtestBy Tex Maule, June 7, 1965Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) is a fighter bedeviled by his own excellence. He knocked out big Sonny Liston with a punch so marvelously fast that almost no one believed in it -- but it was hard and true.
•Cassius Clay Must Be BeatenBy Floyd Patterson and Jack MahonFloyd Patterson will fight Cassius Clay for the world heavyweight championship on November 22 in Las Vegas. Here, with writer Jack Mahon, he tells why he believes he is going to win the title fight, and why he feels that he must win it.
•The Wind That Blew In ChicagoBy William Barry Furlong, March 7, 1966Cassius Clay was stage center as the Illinois commission reopened hearings on his fight with Ernie Terrell, but politicians (and 'patriots') were as much on trial as the champion.
•A Case Of Conscience By Jack Olsen, April 11 1966Call him Cassias Clay or Muhammad Ali, the Muslim name he prefers. He is the best-known athlete in the world. He is also the most hated, and an enigma even to those closest to him.
•Growing Up Scared In Louisville By Jack Olsen, April 18, 1966Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., a man-child as prejudiced as the stiff-necked bigots he professes to detest, was unusual almost from the day he was born.
•Learning Elijah's Advanced Lesson In HateBy Jack Olsen, May 2, 1966It is difficult to see how Cassius Clay, who may have become a Black Muslim as early as 16, could have been kept out of the movement. Mystical, unsettled and obsessed with prophecy, he was a perfect prospect.
•Champ In The Jug?By Robert H. Boyle, April 10, 1967In a fateful week it suddenly seemed possible that Muhammad Ali would prefer jail to Army duty. Ironically, this came when Manager Herbert Muhammad was working to make Ali less objectionable.
•Taps For The ChampBy Edwin Shrake, May 8, 1967Muhammad Ali predicted great demonstrations, but they were mild (left). And so were the induction proceedings in Houston, where a calm military led Ali down the corridor to the room where he would make his fateful decision to reject the draft call.
•"I Am Not Worried About Ali"By Bill Russell and Tex Maule, June 19, 1967Earlier this month a group of prominent Negro athletes held a confidential meeting with Muhammad Ali in Cleveland to discuss his decision to reject Army service. Much erroneous public conjecture ensued. Here one of the leading participants tells what did happen and offers provocative opinions of his own.
•He Could Go To Jail And Still Be ChampBy Angelo Dundee and Tex Maule, August 28, 1967The man who beat Karl Mildenberger 'fighting him wrong' is too young and assured, says Dundee, to be ruined as a boxer if draft troubles put him behind bars.
•For Ali, A Time To PreachBy Tex Maule, February 19, 1968Whether sermonizing in California or at home, Muhammad Ali is still as controversial and colorful as he ever was in the ring� to which, he promises, he will return a winner from 'Alcatraz.'
•Welcome Back, Ali! By Martin Kane, September 14, 1970Overweight and undertrained, Muhammad still looked mighty good as he returned to action in Atlanta and worked up a sweat against three sparring partners. He could quickly get ready for the real thing.
•No Requiem For A HeavyweightBy George Plimpton, April 5, 1971The fight, the dressing room, the hospital are all behind him. Now Muhammad Ali guides strangers through his new house, toys with its sparkling chandeliers and shows nothing has really changed.
•Got To Look Good To Allah By Tex Maule, November 29, 1971Muhammad Ali, the compassionate, has his old skills, but the will to kill has waned.
•Just Call Him Shubert AliBy Mark Kram, October 2, 1972Bobbing out of reach or reaching out for Frazier, it was Broadway show biz for Muhammad.
•Bury His Heart At Wounded JawBy Dan Levin, April 9, 1973Few saw the punch, but it was obvious that for all of Muhammad's courage a Whodoyoucallim named Norton had cracked his armor.
•The Mouth That Nearly RoaredBy Tex Maule, April 23, 1973His wired jaw kept the decibels down, but the message was clear: Norton, Frazier and Foreman are in trouble. Muhammad Ali will be 'trained' for this comeback and better than ever. That's what he says.
• Jawful Test On The MountainBy Mark Kram, September 3, 1973Muhammad Ali took it on the chin for real and felt no ill effects from his recent fracture. Training hard and seriously at his hillside retreat, he is still king of his clique and future champion of all he surveys.
•Crafty Win For MuhammadBy Mark Kram, February 4, 1974There were no bombs in his fists, but with artfulness ripened through the years Ali took on all that Joe Frazier could offer and easily won their rematch.
•Breaking A Date For The DanceBy George Plimpton, November 11, 1974All through his training Ali had promised the fancy footwork that would elude Foreman's power, but he had a secret plan that stunned them all� and especially the champion.
•Return Of The Big Bopper By George Plimpton, December 23, 1974Down but determined to fight his way back to the top, Muhammad Ali turned 1974 into a year of great triumph.
•"Lawdy, Lawdy, He's Great"By Mark Kram, October 13, 1975Joe Frazier said that of Muhammad Ali, but so fierce and unsparing was their confrontation that the phrase could have applied to them both.
•Oh, To Be Young And 200 PoundsBy Mark Kram, May 31, 1976With Muhammad Ali about to take his last bow, a bunch of pretenders are being groomed for a shot at the crown.
• But Only A Farce In TokyoBy Mark Kram, July 5, 1976Ballyhooed by promoters as The War of the Worlds, the Ali-Inoki fiasco ultimately proved to be the bore of the ages.
•Not The Greatest Way To GoBy Mark Kram, October 11, 1976If, as Muhammad Ali maintains, his disputed victory over Ken Norton was his last fight ever, the faded image of his old skills that he left in the ring at Yankee Stadium makes his decision a wise one.
•Through The Years With AliBy SI Staff, December 20, 1976Out of Louisville he came, to become champion of the world� twice. Now Ali, whose worldwide celebrity may be unequaled in modern times, is near the end of his boxing career, and if no longer the greatest, he is still the best. He has quit, unquit and requit, the prerogative of the aging genius -- and the signal for a shuffle down memory lane. Here is a sampling of his life and times.
•One More Time To The Top By Pat Putnam, September 25, 1978Circling around a confused Leon Spinks, old master Ali jabbed a bit, grabbed a bit and won the world title all over again in their Battle of New Orleans.
•The Latest From The Greatest By Pat Putnam, April 14, 1980He may be way out of shape and 38, but an $8 million purse beckons, and so Muhammad has gone to the mountain.
•Doom In The Desert By Pat Putnam, October 13, 1980The ravages of age and his training regimen left Muhammad Ali helpless before the swift fists of Larry Holmes.
•Not With A Bang But A WhisperBy William Nack, December 21, 1981After losing to Trevor Berbick, a subdued Muhammad Ali softly admitted that his illustrious career had come to an end.
• After The FallBy Gary Smith, October 8, 1984Ten years ago this month George Foreman and Muhammad Ali met in the ring in Zaire. While Ali won that war, it's Foreman who has found lasting peace.
•Ali And His EntourageBy Gary Smith, April 25, 1988The champ and his followers were the greatest show on earth, and then the show ended. But life went on.
•A Celebration Of Muhammad AliBy Gary Smith, November 15, 1989No other athlete has so commanded our attention. And the careers of few have been so varied, so complex and so little tainted by hypocrisy.
•Young Cassius ClayBy William Nack, January 13, 1992At 50, Muhammad Ali is a much-admired figure, just as he was in his formative years as a fun-loving but purposeful youth in Louisville.
•In The Game Of The FatherBy Franz Lidz, October 18, 1999In her debut, Laila Ali, the daughter of the Greatest, was a chip off the old champ.
•The Eternal Muhammad By Richard Hoffer, December 24, 2001Why, after all these years, does Ali continue to fascinate us?
You May Like
More More Sports
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!