Muhammad Ali became famous by taunting his opponents and bragging about his own abilities, which eventually gained him a title fight against heavyweight champion Sonny Liston in 1964, according to About.com. Ali, known as Cassius Clay then, beat Liston and went on to be heavyweight champion for three years.
Ali continued his rise to fame for his actions outside the boxing ring. Once he became heavyweight champion, he changed his name and announced that he had joined the controversial Nation of Islam, according to About.com. When Ali was drafted in 1967, he declined to serve and was convicted of draft evasion. Following the conviction, Ali was stripped of his championship title and banned from boxing for more than three years.