A list of all Muhammad Ali's losses: A closer look at the legend's defeats

A list of all Muhammad Ali's losses: A closer look at the legend's defeats

Lenah Ann
updated at December 10, 2023 at 4:26 AM

Muhammad Ali is a name that needs no introduction in boxing. He was nicknamed the "greatest" by sports pundits and historians and is regarded as the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. Since he debuted in the sport, he took on the best, such as Sugar Ray Robinson and Joe Frazier, and in doing so, he encountered some losses along the way. However, Muhammad Ali's losses did not taint his legacy since he proved his excellence by competing with the greatest.

How many times did Muhammad Ali lose?
Cassius Clay poses on 17 May 1962, in Bronx, New York. Photo: Stanley Weston (Modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

The all-time great was renowned for his remarkable prowess in the ring, frank demeanour, and impact on other aspects of society outside of boxing. He overcame several obstacles in his career since he always rose to the occasion. Join us as we examine each of Muhammad Ali's five losses and what they meant for his career.

Muhammad Ali's profile summary

Full name

Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr

Date of birth

17 January 1942


Died aged 74 (3 June 2016)

Place of birth

Louisville, Kentucky, the United States of America





Zodiac sign



6 feet 3 inches or 191 centimetres


236 pounds or 107 kilograms


Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr and Odessa Grady Clay


Rudolph "Rudy" Clay


Sonji Roi (1964-1966) ​, Belinda Boyd (1967-1977) ​, Veronica Porché​ (1977-1986) and Yolanda Williams (married 1986)


Ali Jr, Laila, Maryum, Rasheda, Asaad Amin, Hana, Miya, Khaliah, Jamillah


Central High School


Former professional boxer and activist

Weight category




Net worth

$50 million

Muhammad Ali's biography

Muhammad Ali (died at age 74 on 3 June 2016) was born on 17 January 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, the United States of America, to Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr and Odessa Grady Clay. He was raised alongside his brother, Rudolph, and they attended Central High School.

Muhammad Ali's height and weight were 6 feet 3 inches or 191 centimetres and 236 pounds or 107 kilograms, respectively. He had black hair and dark brown eyes. Regarding his ethnicity and nationality, he was an American national of mixed ethnic background.

A list of all Muhammad Ali's losses

The legendary icon was the reigning champion during the '70s and '80s and thus earned the titles of Sportsman and Sports Personality of the Century by Sports Illustrated and BBC, respectively. So, how many losses did Muhammad Ali have?

Muhammad Ali's wins and losses record
Muhammad Ali stares down his opponent in his corner prior to a match on 1 January 1970. Photo by Focus on Sport
Source: Getty Images

5. Trevor Berbick, 1981

The famous boxer lost his last professional bout in the Bahamas in 1981 against Trevor Berbick. At the time, he was 39 years old and had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease two years prior to the fight. With a unanimous decision victory, Berbick took the day.

4. Larry Holmes, 1980

The heavyweight fighter's fourth defeat came in 1980 when he faced Larry Holmes. He was 38 years old at the time and had already begun to exhibit indications of Parkinson's disease. Despite his failing condition, he refused to give up and agreed to fight.

The match, however, was a disaster for him. Holmes dominated from start to end, and his trainer eventually called it quits in the 11th round. The defeat was a wake-up call for him, demonstrating the toll his years in the ring had taken on his physique.

3. Leon Spinks, 1978

The boxing legend's third defeat came in 1978 when he faced Leon Spinks. Spinks was a young, somewhat unknown boxer who outworked him and won a split decision. The defeat surprised him because he had beaten Spinks just seven months before.

He did not, however, let the loss get him down. He immediately began preparing for a rematch and reclaimed his championship with a unanimous decision victory over Spinks barely seven months later.

2. Ken Norton, 1973

The famous boxer's second defeat came against Ken Norton in 1973. Norton was a relatively unknown boxer then, but he broke his jaw in the first few rounds of their battle. Despite battling throughout the rest of the bout, he was defeated by a split decision.

The defeat was a big blow for him since it stopped him from getting a rematch with Frazier and jeopardised his prospects of recovering his belt. He did, however, earn his rematch with Norton in 1976 and won handily by unanimous decision.

Did Muhammad Ali ever lose a fight?
Muhammad Ali at home in Los Angeles before his last fight with Larry Holmes on 3 August 1980 in Hancock Park, Los Angeles, California. Photo: Paul Harris
Source: Getty Images

1. Joe Frazier, 1971

The heavyweight champion's first defeat occurred in the famously dubbed "Fight of the Century" in 1971 to Joe Frazier. The two fighters engaged in a fierce 15-round battle that was eventually decided unanimously.

The defeat was a significant blow to him since he had gone unbeaten in his prior professional fights. But he refused to let that stop him, and in 1974, he defeated George Foreman in the "Rumble in the Jungle" bout held in Kinshasa, Zaire, to reclaim his championship.

Muhammad Ali's wins and losses

The well-known hero had a fantastic career record of 56 victories and 5 defeats, with 37 of those victories coming by knockout.

How many times did Muhammad Ali lose?

Did Muhammad Ali ever lose a fight? In his two-decade career, the heavyweight champion experienced 5 losses, which he was not used to. However, his record is unmatched since he lost to other all-time greats.

What was Muhammad Ali's net worth?

According to Celebrity Net Worth, at the time of his death in 2016, the renowned heavyweight champion had a net worth of approximately $50 million. He earned most of his income from his successful boxing career alongside investments.

Muhammad Ali's awards and achievements

The renowned boxing legend received numerous awards and achievements due to his success in the ring and philanthropic work. Here is a list of some of his honours.

  • 2-time National Golden Gloves Light Heavyweight Champion
  • 2- time National Amateur Athletic Union champion
  • 3-time World Heavyweight Champion
  • Dr Martin Luther King Memorial Award
  • Sportsman of the Year, Sports Illustrated
  • Fighter of the Year, Boxing Writers Association
  • Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Texas Southern University
  • Inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame

Muhammad Ali's marriages and kids

The renowned heavyweight boxer was married four times and had nine children: seven daughters and two sons.

Frequently asked questions

Unbeknownst to many, Ali was not only an accomplished boxer but also an accomplished musician who was nominated for two Grammy Awards, an actor, and a writer who published two autobiographies. Here are some frequently asked questions about him.

1. How did Muhammad Ali die?

For almost ten years, the boxing legend suffered from Parkinson's disease, a neurological ailment that impeded his movement. Additionally, he suffered from Spinal Stenosis and died of septic shock at the age of 74.

2. Were Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson friends?

The two legends were friends, and during an interview, Tyson admitted that Ali had assisted in shaping his career. Their friendship began when Mike Tyson was 14 years old.

3. How much was Ali's punch power?

The punch strength of the famous legend delivered around 1,000 pounds of force. His fists had a cumulative impact that could knock his opponents out with a single strike.

4. Who was Muhammad Ali scared to fight?

How many losses did Muhammad Ali have?
Boxer Muhammad Ali practices hitting a punching bag on 25 September 1975, as part of his Sunday workout routine. Photo: Bettmann
Source: Getty Images

In a fantasy super fight, the all-time boxing legend confidentially acknowledged that he did not think he could beat a peak Mike Tyson.

5. Why was Muhammad Ali so legendary?

The former boxer is famous for becoming the first fighter to win the world heavyweight championship three times and for being a philanthropist and activist who has spoken out against racial inequality.

The five Muhammad Ali's losses did not hinder him from reaching his goal and leaving a footprint that would forever be remembered in the annals of the sport. His humanitarian and philanthropic endeavours were widely recognized. An estimated 1 billion people watched his memorial service, which was well-attended by celebrities and other sports personalities.

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Lenah Ann
Lenah Ann is a Kenyan-based content creator with 2 years of experience. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Media and Communication from Dedan Kimathi, Kenya in 2021.