Humanitarian Timeline

    More than just a boxer, learn about Muhammad Ali's acts of compassion around the world.

    Provides Relief for PA Coal Mine Disaster

    On December 6th, 1962, Robena Coal Mine near Carmichaels, Pennsylvania suffered a catastrophic explosion due to methane gas. Eighty-four men were in the mine at the time and 47 of them fled to safety. Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) donated 10 percent of the proceeds from his bout with Charlie Powell to the Robena No. 3 Disaster Trust Fund for the families of the thirty-seven Pennsylvania coal miners killed.

    Largest-ever United Negro College Fund Donation

    Muhammad Ali became the largest single Black contributor to the treasury of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) by donating $10,000 ($78,000 in 2020 USD). UNCF President Dr. Stephen J. Wright noted that Ali did not seek any publicity in making his donation.

    "Unlike other donations, the envelope did not contain anything which would have amounted to a request for publicity. It just contained the check."

    Dr. Stephen J. Wright

    Ali Supports Palestinian Refugees

    African Drought Relief

    “Wars of nations are fought to change maps...wars on poverty are fought to map changes."

    Muhammad Ali

    New York Hillside Aged Program Center

    After hearing that the New York Hillside Aged Center was ready to close, Ali spontaneously appeared the next morning with a $100,000 donation. He stayed for a while to meet some of the residents and then left before reporters caught up with him.

    "You just don't announce things like that. They're not for publicity. Service to others is the rent I pay for my room here on earth."

    Muhammad Ali

    Tour of England

    U.N. Campaign Against Apartheid and Racial Injustice

    Muhammad Ali spoke out and brought attention to racial issues and global inequities. Ali would travel to the United Nations to campaign against apartheid in South Africa, bringing one of his drawings to then secretary Kurt Waldheim with the phrase "Peace!" Ali would also address the U.N. during a Special Committee against apartheid.

    Muhammad Ali Goodwill Ambassador Visit to Russia

    Ali becomes Carter’s diplomat abroad

    Muhammad Ali met with African leaders on behalf of U.S. President Jimmy Carter to organize a boycott of the '80 Moscow Olympics. President Carter wanted to rally opinion against the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Ali visited Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, Liberia, and Senegal to get them on board. Ali also put on a charity exhibition match in Kenya.

    Black and white photo of Muhammad Ali, his father and Jimmy Carter

    Hostage Release in Lebanon

    Children's Journey for Peace

    Muhammad Ali sponsored the Children’s Journey for Peace, and was one of the founders of the Children's Peace Foundation. The summer-long peace crusade involved Ali and 50 children from around the globe visiting Moscow, Peking, New Delhi, London, Washington, D.C., and the Vatican, petitioning their leaders to fight for peace by the year 2000.

    Famine Relief in the Sudan

    Muhammad Ali Meets Nelson Mandela

    Muhammad Ali visited Nelson Mandela in South Africa when Mandela was released from prison after twenty-seven years. A member of Ali’s security detail reported that he never forgot how Ali carried a briefcase full of pamphlets with religious messages that he had signed, and would distribute to anyone who asked for his autograph.

    Ali Seeks Release of Iran-Iraq War POWs

    Sports Diplomacy in North Korea

    Muhammad Ali visited North Korea as part of the "Sports and Culture Festival for Peace,” that featured the American wrestler Ric Flair and Japanese wrestler "Tony" Inoki. The group also included Koreans from Canada and the U.S. who joined the trip to see if they could meet long lost relatives.

    Muhammad Ali and Ric Flair facing each other, Flair is smiling

    World Healing Project

    Musician Prince Rogers Nelson was honored to support his hero Muhammad Ali and his message of racial tolerance at the World Healing Project press conference. The two met with the press to outline the upcoming October charity concert tour to aid the Muhammad Ali World Healing Project program that would combat bigotry worldwide.

    Goodwill Mission to Cuba

    Muhammad Ali traveled on a goodwill mission to Havana, Cuba, accompanied by actor Ed Asner and representatives of the U.S.-based Disarm Education Fund and Direct Relief International organization to donate medicine and equipment to local hospitals. He and his wife Lonnie visited children at a local Hospital. Ali also met with Cuban President Fidel Castro.

    Presidential Citizen Medal

    Ali visits Ground Zero

    Muhammad Ali visited New York City's still smoldering Ground Zero on September 20, 2001, just nine days after the attack to lift the spirits of the first responders and their families to spread a message of peace.

    Color photo of Muhammad Ali with soldiers at Ground Zero one week after 9/11.

    Ali Visits Afghanistan as Messenger of Peace

    Ali advocates for release of American hikers in Iran

    Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer were arrested on the unmarked border between Iran and Iraq on July 31, 2009. They pled not guilty to spying charges. Muhammad Ali joined a dozen Muslim leaders in signing a letter to Iranian Supreme Leader Khomenei seeking the hikers' release.

    Ali receives Liberty Medal

    Muhammad Ali was honored for his long-time role as an advocate for humanitarian causes, civil rights and religious freedom. Ali was recognized as the "Champion of Freedom" for his unrelenting, persistent fight for equality, peace, and justice in every area of life all over the world.

    Photo of Muhammad Ali wearing medal surrounded by group on stage while audience takes pictures

    Advocating for Release of Detained Reporter in Iran

    Ali Defends Islam as a Religion of Peace

    Muhammad Ali issued one of his final public statements after terrorist attacks in the name of Islam in Paris and California. A few days after then-presidential candidate Donald Trump suggested that there are no Muslim sports heroes, Ali spoke against Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

    Shop the Museum

    Muhammad Ali Center