Why The Late Boxing Champ Changed His Name To Muhammad Ali

His former wife has a very different story to tell behind the reason why Ali changed his name.

Cover image via Sport Magazine

Muhammad Ali, the man who wrote his own legacy, is no more!

Image via BBC

But before the world came to know the greatest sporting figure of all time as Muhammad Ali, he was Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr, named so after his father. A name which he dubbed as "my slave name".

As Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr, the 3-time heavyweight champion had already made a name for himself by winning several fights under his former name.

However, Ali – who in the 1960s was working with the African American Islamic religious movement with aims to improve the condition of African Americans in the US – became a spiritual and political student of Malcolm X, a key figure in the movement, and started referring to himself as Cassius X.

He was then renamed Muhammad Ali (Praised one) in a recorded statement by Elijah Muhammad, the group's leader in 1964, according to The Independent.

Later, Ali would go on to announce: "Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn't choose it and I don't want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name – it means beloved of God, and I insist people use it when people speak to me."

Image via FirstPost

However, a less sensational reason, as per Ali's former wife, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the real reason Muhammad Ali became Muhammad Ali from Cassius Clay is because she "rejected his autograph by his former name, prompting Ali to choose a "name of a culture", she claimed in this video interview to HuffPost Live

Well, whatever the reason, there's no denying that Muhammad Ali — the man who floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee — worked hard to achieve the highest level of athletic celebrity unlike any and did more than anyone else to nurture black pride! RIP, Ali.

Image via SAYS

Meanwhile, earlier in April, Muhammad Shehran Abdullah of Malaysia emerged victorious in his debut appearance as a professional boxer:

You may be interested in: