At the young age of 18, Cassius Clay, Jr.—wearing a military surplus parachute to conquer his deathly fear of flying—trotted across the globe to Rome, Italy where he would claim Olympic gold. This trip would be just the first of hundreds around the world.
Muhammad Ali would go on to travel to six continents, take part in fights or exhibitions on all of those, and become a citizen of the world. He explored his heritage through trips to Africa and Ireland, made several pilgrimages to Mecca, and frolicked through the forests in Switzerland.
Wherever Ali went, droves of fans would flock to catch a glimpse, and Ali always made time to visit with them.
Muhammad Ali’s interactions with U.S. presidents and international leaders, like Leonid Brezhnev, Deng Xiaoping, Kofi Anaan, Nelson Mandela, and Saddam Hussein showcased his diplomatic prowess and commitment to fostering international relations.
These encounters highlighted Ali’s impact on the political landscape, while his extensive travels to countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Libya, and Lebanon further showcased his global reach and connections with leaders and local communities worldwide.
Ali was intentional about taking boxing to the world, and not just fighting from Maine to Miami. Some of Ali’s most famous bouts took place overseas. Most notably, the Rumble in the Jungle (Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), and the Thrilla in Manila (Philippines).