1. GOAT status of his or her sport
Defeated every top heavyweight in his era ("Golden Age of Heavyweight Boxing"),
* Ranked #1 in a 1998 ranking of greatest heavyweights of all eras (Ring Magazine).
* Named "Fighter of the Year" (Ring Magazine) more times than any other boxer.
2. Pioneering impact
Ali is known nearly as much for his convictions & compassion as he is for his fists. He could easily have spent his entire career & retirement cashing in by selling merchandise (e.g., clothes, fast food, etc.).
According to the Ali Center website, "Since he retired from boxing, Ali has devoted himself to humanitarian endeavors around the globe. He is a devout Muslim, and travels the world over, lending his name and presence to hunger and poverty relief, supporting education efforts of all kinds, promoting adoption and encouraging people to respect and better understand one another. It is estimated that he has helped to provide more than 22 million meals to feed the hungry. Ali travels, on average, more than 200 days per year.
Ali's shadow is made even larger by every Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens. His heart and soul will be remembered long after people forget his jabs and uppercuts.
3. Marketability/impact on society outside of the sport
"In 1993, AP reported that Ali was tied with Babe Ruth as the most recognized athletes, out of over 800 dead or alive athletes, in America. The study, conducted by Nye Lavalle's Sports Marketing Group, found that over 97% of Americans, over 12-years of age, identified both Ali and Ruth.
Ali's impact on society outside of boxing is significant. His legacy reverberates among athletes in damn near every other sport. His life choices, good and bad, have (& will always have) impacted men, women, and children across the entire planet.
The number and popularity of articles, books, and movies about Ali speak for themselves. Will Smith is one of the most charismatic actors of his generation...and still failed to capture the enormity of Ali's personality.
Ali's marketability is unquestionable.
26 years of dominance. Period.
Amateur: 1954 - 1979
* 100-5 (95%
Professional: 1960 - 1980
) w/37 KOs
5. Championships/Medals/Belts won
* 2 national Gold Glove titles
* 1 Gold Medal (Rome, '60)
* NABF Heavyweight title (won/defended 9 times)
* WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles (won/defended 20 times)