Muhammad Ali was a 6’3” heavyweight who lost just five fights in a 61-bout career and won 37 of them by knockouts. When he said, “If you even dream of beating me, you’d better wake up and apologise”, he meant it.

A boxer through and through – with a hint of flamboyant showmanship – his sport was the only kind of fighting he was interested in. He was denied the opportunity to fight for three-and-a-half years for objecting to serve in Vietnam. He was back in the ring in 1970. Four years later, he defeated George Foreman, and did the same to Joe Frazier in 1975. But as the decade drew on, he went into decline and retired in 1981 after one defeat too many.

Sadly, this Golden Gloves and Olympic gold winner was diagnosed with Parkinson ’s disease in 1984. His glory days may be behind him, but he’s perhaps the most famous boxer in the world, thanks to his superlative strength and stamina, incredible self-belief, and a way with words that made him a star attraction on many a chat show. Noted for his philanthropy, this former pugilist became a UN Messenger of Peace.

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