1 of 7
Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali visits sick children in hospitalKen Regan
Muhammad Ali
Prince joins Muhammad Ali to announce World Healing Project, an international campaign against bigotry and prejudice in 1997Reuters
Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela
Muhammad Ali meets Nelson Mandela. Ali was appointed United Nation Messenger Of Peace In 1998Ken Regan
Muhammad Ali
The boxing legend receives honorary Doctor of Law degree from Columbia UniversityReuters
Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali, the boxing legend who amassed several championships during his career, is the recipient of 2012 Liberty Medal.Reuters
Muhammad Ali
Ali receives the 2002 Global Leadership Award from the United Nations Association and the Business Council for the UN in New York in 2002 for outstanding leadership in furthering the purpose and principles underpinning the United NationsReuters
Muhammad Ali
Ali visits the Karte-Sei school in Kabul in 2002. He arrived in the Afghan capital as a messenger of peace from the UN Children's Fund and the World Food ProgrammeReuters

More than 50 years after he burst on to the scene at the 1960 Rome Olympics, three-time World Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali remains one of the most well-known and respected sports figures of all time.

Even though he has received worldwide recognition for his success as a boxer, Ali's fame goes beyond the ring and his greatest triumph lies in his legacy as a champion, leader, social activist and humanitarian.

The legendary fighter has long been recognised for his philanthropic efforts and his work as a social activist, which includes a landmark journey to Iraq in 1990, to negotiate the release of 15 hostages.

While his refusal to be inducted into the United States Army to fight in the Vietnam War led to him being banned from the sport he loved at the height of his career, his inspiring courage and anti-war stance helped spearhead the growing anti-war movement of the 1960s.

His post-boxing humanitarian endeavours include putting his name to many initiatives for peace and humanitarian aid as well as anonymous donations of millions of dollars to a variety of individuals and organisations surpassing race and class barriers.

Appointed the United Nations Messenger of Peace in 1998, Ali has travelled across continents to hand-deliver food and medical supplies to poor and war-ravaged communities.

Despite battling with Parkinson's disease for three decades, he has inspired millions of people.

His work as a humanitarian has been immortalised in the Muhammad Ali Centre.

Opened in his Kentucky hometown of Louisville in 2005, the centre is a non-profit cultural and international centre designed to pay homage to the legendary heavyweight champion's phenomenonal career and inspiring life.

"It's much more than a building. We are here to create an enduring legacy," said spokeswoman Jeanie Kahnke.

Throughout his life Ali has remained consistent in his work and proved that as a sportsman you have the power to alter social values and affect change.