Widely considered the greatest heavyweight boxer in history, Muhammad Ali accomplished many feats in and out of the ring in his 74 years. Aside from his boxing accomplishments--like capturing the heavyweight title three times--Ali was also regarded as an activist, humanitarian, and a devout Muslim.
Despite what's widely known of the former boxing champ, who passed away on Friday at the age of 74, here are five facts about Muhammad Ali that you might not be aware of.
4. He starred in a period drama
Ali appeared as himself in many films and television series during and after his boxing career, but in 1979, Ali starred alongside Kris Kristofferson in his only dramatic acting role. Based on a true story, Freedom Road, tells the story of an ex-slave (Ali) who gets elected to the United States Senate and tries to bring political order and equality to the post-Civil War South.
Ali also starred as himself in a dramatized autobiographical film entitled The Greatest. In addition to film, Ali appeared as himself in countless television shows including Diff'rent Strokes and Vega$.
2. He was related to four US Presidents
Believe it or not, Ali was related to four US Presidents thanks to his Anglo-Saxon descent. In addition to being related to Presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Benjamin Harrision, Ali also shared lineage with military greats like Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. George S. Patton.
In addition to prominent figures of US history, Ali was also related to actors Glenn Close, Laura Dern, and Hilary Duff.
1. He starred in a Broadway musical
However brief it may have been, Ali starred in the title role of the musical Buck White in 1969. Ali appeared in the musical during his 43-month hiatus from boxing in which he was banned for refusing to be inducted into the U.S. Army.
Despite closing after just four nights, Ali earned praise for his performance. "He sings with a pleasant slightly impersonal voice, acts without embarrassment and moves with innate dignity," wrote a New York Times reviewer Clive Barnes.
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