Muhammad Ali in action against Sonny Liston in 1964.
Muhammad Ali in action against Sonny Liston in 1964. Anonymous

Five things you might not know about Ali


IN 1990 Ali went to Iraq, after the invasion of Kuwait, to negotiate the release of 15 American hostages held by Saddam Hussein.

Ali visited schools, prayed at a Baghdad mosque and met Hussein.

"We hope and pray there is not a war," he told Iraqi officials.

The White House of George Bush senior disapproved of the meeting but Ali managed to bring the Americans back to the United States.

"God works through people," Ali told a thankful released hostage. "It's not me."

A little more than a month later the US invaded in Operation Desert Storm, in what became the first Iraq war.

See the ESPN documentary about his trip to Iraq


DESPITE his fading health, Ali reacted to Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump's call to ban all Muslims from entering the US.

"Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people's views on what Islam really is," Ali said in part in a statement without mentioning Trump's name.

After Ali's death on the weekend, Trump praised the former heavyweight champion on Twitter.

"Muhammad Ali is dead at 74! A truly great champion and a wonderful guy. He will be missed by all!" he tweeted.

Social media went into a frenzy, with one tweeter saying "Donald Trump you are the epitome of everything he despised".

In a tweet in December, Trump wrote about President Barack Obama, "Obama said in his speech that Muslims are our sports heroes. What sport is he talking about, and who?"

The tweet has come back to haunt Trump.       


ONE of the low points in Ali's career was when he fought Japanese professional wrestler Antonio Inoki in the Budokan in Tokyo in June 1976 in a bout that was a precursor to today's mixed martial arts.

Because Inoki was a professional wrestler Ali thought the $6 million fight was staged, just an exhibition.

Days before the bout, Ali, who was back as boxing heavyweight champion, asked: "When is the rehearsal?"

The giant Japanese said through an interpreter "This isn't an exhibition. It's a real fight!"

The rules were changed banning Inoki from throwing, grappling or tackling Ali. Inoki could not land any kicks unless he had one knee on the mat.

As soon as the 15-round fight started Inoki slid to the floor and while on his back started kicking at Ali's legs.

The stunned American ran around the ring, climbing the ropes to evade Inoki's legs.

Ali did not land a punch until the seventh round.

The bout ended in a draw, saving face for both fighters.

See the video on YouTube    


WHEN his ring career ended, entrepreners flocked to Ali for appearances and endorsements.

The world was flooded with memorabilia such as photos, gloves and boxing trunks, allegedly autographed by Ali.

Traders have reacted quickly to his death with eBay featuring thousands of pieces of Ali  memorabilia for sale.

In 1999, Ali became the first boxer on a cereal box.

He rang out the millennium at the New York Stock Exchange in 1999.

In 2003, a $7500 art book celebrating his life was published.

His life was the subject of a television movie and a feature film directed.

The same licensing firm that owned most of Elvis Presley's image purchased rights to Ali's.  


MUHAMMAD Ali had at least three visits to Australia.

In 1979 he was part of television history when Logies host Bert Newton made the biggest gaffe of his career.

Newton was embarrassed and more than a little afraid when he unintentionally made a racist comment when interviewing Ali.

Newton said "I like the boy" to Ali, which was insult to black people in America.

"It was an honest mistake on my part," Newton said. He said he was scared when Ali reacted.

"I thought, I don't think my life is all that secure here."

See the clip on

Ali was the special guest at the 1998 AFL grand final in Melbourne.

He did a lap of honour before the match, cheered on by more than 94,430 fans at the MCG.

Ali came to Sydney for the 2000 Olympic Games, meeting up with one of his great foes, Joe Bugner.

While here, Ali had a low-key visit to a community centre in Dandenong in Victoria.