Why Did Muhammad Ali Change His Name?

Published 03/20/2022, 7:00 AM EDT

Muhammad Ali, arguably the greatest boxer of any generation, transcended his greatness outside the boxing circle and became an important figure for the entire sporting community. Having done some really out-of-the-box things in his life, Ali was never free of controversies.

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His loud mouth, brashy nature, and dominant boxing skills troubled several of Ali’s opponents. While umpteen of his critics pinpointed numerous flaws in Muhammad Ali’s activities, ‘The Greatest’ never really changed his approach to anyone.

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Muhammad Ali said and did what he felt was correct all throughout his life. He retired at the age of 39 in 1981, setting a professional record of 56-5. Ali hung up his gloves with his head held high. But he didn’t carry his original name to the last.

It is no secret, Muhammad Ali changed his name after several years of boxing. While some people are aware of it, it is scarcely known as to why the boxer actually materialized on that move.

Why did Muhammad Ali change his name?

Apart from being a boxer, Muhammad Ali was also an activist. Per reports, he denied serving the US military in the 1967 war and cited his religious beliefs as the prime reason for stepping down from the battle. It evoked the administrators to punish Ali with five-year imprisonment and ban his boxing license.

 

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The Supreme Court later overturned the conviction as Ali returned to boxing. However, Ali had changed his name way before then. He joined the Nation of Islam in 1964 and took up the moniker of ‘Cassius X’, which he again changed to Muhammad Ali.

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It is said, Ali became an orthodox Islamist in the ’70s, and his religious beliefs were the main cause of why he changed his name. Muhammad Ali explained his decision to change the name several times. And each time, the sense of freedom from being a slave rose out, justifying the boxer’s outer-ring stints to an extent.

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What is Muhammad Ali’s real name?

Ali was actually born Cassius Clay in 1942. As per reports, his grandfather worked as a slave back in the years. So it may have been the root cause why Ali wane to change his name. On gaining momentum as a boxing superstar, Ali rightly channelized his thoughts into actions. He discussed his hatred for slavery several times and had even cited his former name was based on slavery.

 

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Once he accepted the name of Ali, there was no turning back. The boxer became more popular with his new name. And even today, Muhammad Ali arguably sits at the helm in the world of combat sports.

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Raj Sarkar

3291 articles

A senior boxing writer at EssentiallySports, Raj Sarkar is a mass media graduate who is currently pursuing his master’s degree in broadcast journalism. In addition to his current role, he has worked with the MMA team at EssentiallySports and has interviewed prominent fighters such as Ritu Phogat and 'The Red King' Rory MacDonald. Combining his bachelor's degree with his adoration for combat sports, he has earned a combined 3000 plus bylines over the last two years.

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