A tribute to Muhammad Ali: Reliving his most iconic fights.

The former heavy-weight champion was admitted to hospital yesterday with respiratory difficulties

BY Sinéad Farrell 10:13 Saturday 4 June 2016, 10:13 4 Jun 2016

Picture by: / AP/Press Association Images

Following the tragic death of boxing icon Muhammad Ali, we look back at the famous bouts which moulded the profile of the three-time heavyweight champion of the world.

A doctor who featured in a book called King Of The World, once described Ali as the most perfect human being he had ever treated. The theory was no doubt inspired by Ali's relentless drive to train and eat in equally large quantities which obviously amounted to a blend that pleased the physician. 

Ali first stepped into the ring at the age of 12 and turned professional six years later. In a career spanning some three decades, Ali picked off box office opponents, including Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson, George Foreman and Joe Frazier. His charismatic demeanour secured the support of many while his divisive political and religious movements provoked hatred in others.

But irrespective of his activities outside of sport, Muhammad Ali cultivated an irrepressible legacy inside the ring. Here are some of his most famous fights.

1. Muhammad Ali defeats Sonny Liston to claim the Heavyweight title in 1964.

"That was the only time I was ever scared in the ring. Sonny Liston. First time. First round. Said he was gonna kill me."

At 22, Ali went in pursuit of his first heavyweight title, and despite the dismissive words of his critics, Ali repressed his fears and succeeded against Liston. The opposition corner conceded defeat at the end of the sixth round.

The pair met again the following year in a rematch, but again Ali danced freely on the canvas and tormented Liston, culminating in a ferocious right hook that clipped Liston's chin and finished the fight.

2. Muhammad Ali loses to Joe Frazier in 1971

Ali was sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to enlist in the American Army for the Vietnam War. He was also stripped of his heavyweight crown. The conviction was quashed on appeal and he returned to the ring, with Joe Frazier standing as his first assignment in 1971.

Frazier exploited Ali's lack of exposure to competition, and ultimately took the preference of the judges.

But the man who renamed himself resurrected in 1974 to atone for the previous defeat, with a unanimous decision win.


3. Muhammad Ali v George Foreman - 'Rumble In The Jungle.'

In the first ever competitive bout staged in Africa, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman met to produce one of the most memorable fights in boxing history. Ali famously absorbed a litany of punches from Foreman, which prompted many to assume that the latter would go on to claim the fight by force. But Ali deceived them all.

In the eighth round, and with Foreman visibly weakened from the energy expelled in delivering the punches, Ali pounced and sent his rival stumbling to the ground.

It's reported that Foreman did not fight again for 15 months after that fight, such was the extent of this demoralising defeat. 



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