“I am Muhammad Ali, a free name – it means beloved of God, and I insist people use it when people speak to me,” declared the late Muhammad Ali in 1964.

Shortly after the 22-year-old knocked-out Sonny Liston to earn his first world heavyweight championship title, he announced he was converting to Islam and becoming a member of Nation of Islam (NOI). A few weeks after his victory he adopted a Muslim name.

“Cassius Clay is a slave name,” he said. “I didn’t choose it and I don’t want it.’

Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali stands over fallen challenger Sonny Liston, shouting and gesturing shortly after dropping Liston with a short hard right to the jaw in May 1965, in Lewiston, Maine.

Image: John Rooney/AP PHOTO Read more…

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‘I am Muhammad Ali’: Why the boxing legend changed his name from Cassius Clay