Why Muhammad Ali Changed His Name From Cassius Clay
Today we were greeted with the heartbreaking news that Muhammad Ali has passed away, aged 74.
Following his death, family, friends and fans have poured in heartfelt tributes to the sporting icon, as they mourn the loss of a legend.
Many are retelling old stories about Ali, such as the time he talked a suicidal man off a ledge.
One story infamous with the former heavyweight champion is why he changed his name to Muhammad Ali, from his birth name Cassius Clay.
The champ was named Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr after his father, but referred to it as a 'slave name' after converting to Islam.
As the boxer began attending Nation of Islam meetings in the early 60s, an important man in the movement, called Malcolm X, was a spiritual and political mentor to Ali, still then known as Cassius Clay.
In 1964, he officially changed his name to Muhammad Ali, claiming it to be a free name.
He said: "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."
Under the name Cassius Clay, Ali was already making a name for himself as a boxer, having won a number of fights.
It was of course, under the name Muhammad Ali that he shot to international stardom.
In life, the world 'transcended' is thrown about a lot, today more so then usual. However, I think for Ali, it's probably quite accurate.
Words by Mark McGowan
Topics: muhammad ali