a.k.a. Role-model, Performer, High-flyer, Go-getter
Path to create value: Achiever
Achiever loves to compete and win. Achiever’s biggest drive is to become the leader in some disciplines and serve as a role model to others. Some achievers (e.g., Olympians) aim to become world-renowned professionals in their field and inspire young people around the globe. Other achievers don’t seek public attention, but rather, prefer to be recognized in a narrow, specialistic field. In either case, achievers have the ambition to get to some level of measurable success and influence others in a positive way.
Achievers can be misunderstood by their environment, as they are often perceived as attention-seekers. In fact, they usually have the goal to broadcast their message to others, rather than to promote themselves. They have the drive to be role models to others to such an extent that they often design their whole life in a way that can inspire people.
Achievers keep an impressive level of self-discipline in daily life. They move forward on a steady pace: step by step and reaching small milestones every single day. They keep on achieving in all areas of life, and never stop sharing their life hacks and little everyday discoveries with their audiences. Some achievers are more private and don’t show all their lives in public. Instead, they engage in charity activities and education where they can make impact because of their achievements and public attention.
STRENGTHS AT WORKPLACE
The Ability to Inspire Others
It’s not accidental that the vast majority of young people put posters of their idols on the walls of their rooms in their teenage years: athletes, actors, singers, artists, influencers, young founders of successful companies. We need idols, especially while growing up—when we don’t know ourselves and our boundaries just yet, and when we are not decided upon our future direction in life.
Successful people make us believe that we can do anything with our own lives. We like to think, “Despite all their flaws, these guys do what they love doing the most, and so will I!” Positive examples of success is a huge mental support that young people often miss from their parents or teachers.
It is also not accidental that many achievers report that the aspect of their job that is the most motivating to them, is contact with their fans, and the thanksgiving notes received on daily basis.
Many artists report that according to the letters received from their fans, they inspired multiple men to propose to their girlfriends, inspired couples to come back together, prompted a number of depressed individuals to put their lives together and start anew, or even prevented someone from committing a suicide. Successful athletes often hear from their fans that they got inspired to do sports for the first time in their lives, or send their kids to a sports club. What can be more motivating to do your job than this!
Resistance To Stress
Achievers often compete in disciplines that require a combination of talent, hard work, and luck. Needless to say, in these combative conditions, not everyone can end up on top. However, achievers consciously take the risk, and are better than average population in dealing with stress. They are able to focus—especially when the stakes are high—and make a maximal effort at the right moments. Achievers don’t need to convince themselves that competing is a necessary pain to reach their goals: they accept the capitalistic rules of sport: some people win, some people lose.
This demeanor also helps them better manage all areas of their lives as they are willing to also take calculated risks beyond their professional activities. They can take a punt and relocate to another country to build a relationship, or invest their savings understanding that there is a probability of losing their time and resources, but there is even higher probability of winning.
Furthermore, achievers need to take lots of hits on their way towards greatness. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Therefore, they become mentally strong specialists which can be strong contributors wherever they go, even after they officially end their careers.
Achievers develop a trait that is extremely valuable in the today’s world: patience. They understand that results don’t come overnight, and that you need to work on something consistently for years and years before reaching the ultimate success. Even when a career officially ends, patience and persistence stay—they become a capital for a lifetime.
Self-discipline and Self-management
Achievers don’t need any encouragement to jump out of bed in the morning. They are on their mission, and they have a clear vision of where they want to get. This vision careers them throughout the day. If they are active in areas in which they need to work with personal trainers (e.g., in sports), their trainers usually need to convince them to stop practicing the evening rather than start in the morning.
Furthermore, achievers are masters of self-management in daily life. They keep organized—sleep, eat, and work according to the schedule like a Swiss clock. They experiment on themselves and learn which routines work best for them. Therefore, they know how to react in situations when their body protests from further work, or in critical moments when the associated stress doubles (such as a loss in competition or a misfortunate event).
WEAKNESSES AT WORKPLACE AND CAREER PITFALLS
Lack of Self-awareness
Achievers are often unaware that they are competitive. They feel that they just want to be good at what they do, and that’s all—there is nothing so special about it. For this reason, despite their achievements, they don’t think of themselves as role models. It sometimes results in issues, such as, e.g., behaving privately in public or not protecting their privacy well enough.
As an achiever, remember that nothing ever gets lost in the media, especially on the Internet. Once you say something or post some iconoclastic or private material, somewhere in the depths of the Internet — some company or person — will have access to this content. Who knows, maybe a few people will carefully download this material and keep it for later… And you never know what will happen in the future! In 2016, Donald Trump nearly missed the election through his “locker room talk” during a bus ride with a friend accidentally recorded on video 13 years earlier.
As a matter of fact, we all want to achieve something that our family and friends can be proud of—such as a university diploma or building a cozy house for our family. The difference is that, most people choose professional goals that don’t collide with other people’s goals. For instance, in the developed world, anyone can get a higher education today. The fact that you are building a house for yourself won’t prevent your neighbor from building a house for their family. Et cetera.
Achievers, however, choose a different route. Namely, they often go for goals that do collide with other achievers’ goals. Not everyone can become an Olympic champion or the first person to stand on the top of K2 in the winter season. Therefore, obviously, not everyone who decides to aim for big, groundbreaking achievements, will eventually achieve them. Many achievers are so overly ambitious and aim so high that it can end up with serious mental health problems instead of a career.
Many achievers’ careers are burdened with high level of professional risk. For instance, if you aim for a career in sports, you might be put out of business by a concussion. If you dream of becoming a world-renowned signer, your career might be blocked by a flu with complications. Et cetera. Many achievers with great potential were stopped from reaching their original goals because of accidents, and had to choose another path to developing their potential.
For instance, successful actresses Charlize Theron, Dane Kruger, Michelle Yeoh, Mia Wasikowska, and Neve Campbell had to step down from their careers in ballet because of injuries—only to become Hollywood stars later on. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson experienced bad injury while developing his college career in wrestling. Forest Whitaker played football in high school but injury stopped him from professional career. And so the list goes on.
You also need to take into an account that assessment of talent is often subjective in sports or arts—and it can successfully block one’s career. Zoe Saldana developed a career in acting after her dancing career had failed because, according to her teachers, “she didn’t have the feet.” Audrey Hepburn was told in a ballet school that her height and physique was not suitable for a career as a professional ballerina. George Clooney played baseball in high school and aimed to become a professional but he didn’t make it past the first round. As a 15-year-old sophomore, Michael Jordan was heart broken when he got rejected by the high school basketball team because of his height… but he persisted, kept on applying in the following years, and in the end, he got admitted— and in the end, he changed basketball forever.
For these reasons, it is worth to always have a plan B—yet, many achievers live life according the Arnold Schwarzenegger’s motto, “Forget plan B. To test yourself and grow, you have to operate without a safety net.” And, it often ends with plan A not working out, unfortunately.
What Do I Do Now?
Even in the positive scenario which an achiever fulfills their mission, there are lots of possible caveats. Many achievers choose well-defined professional goals, such as, e.g., reaching certain achievement in sports (e.g., winning the Olympic gold, or hiking Mount Everest) or entertainment industry (e.g., winning an Oscar or building a YouTube channel with over a million followers). After their reach their goals, they get the sense of void. What do I do now? I have just reached the highlights of my (professional) life, is there anything else to look forward to?
It is well reported that professional athletes often experience depression after their career in sports comes to the end and all the lights go off (Four Corners, 2021). Professional climbers often experience depressive states after the expedition (Leger, 2017)—even if it was successful.
However, this phenomenon does not only relate to sports. Reportedly, Buzz Aldrin suffered from severe depression and alcoholism after coming back from his successful Apollo 11 mission to the Moon and leaving NASA (which he reported in his two autobiographical books, Return to Earth, 1973, and Magnificent Desolation, 2009). Many Hollywood stars—including Marcia Gay Harden, Adrien Brody, Halle Berry, or Kim Basinger—suffered from post-Oscar depression and, instead of blossoming, their career has derailed since.
When Am I Really Done?
When you compete in sports or in other disciplines in which there is one clear winner, at some point you can say, “I have just reached my goal.” But, what happens when you build your career in an area where there is no Olymp to climb—such as, e.g., developing a YouTube channel, or a blog?
In that case, how much attention is enough? When I have 10,000 Twitter followers willing to receive my daily updates on the top I am passionate about, is it enough? Would it be enough if I gathered 100,000 followers instead? This is yet another reason why achievers often develop depression when they work in the space of content creation (Alexander, 2018). They just never get the sense of satisfaction—they never do enough and well enough.
The Lack of Measurable Progress
Achievers need to see their progress to stay motivated. Namely, they need to see that they do better than yesterday—even if no one else recognizes this fact as an achievement. It is also why you can find so many achievers on social media and in competitive sports—progress is easy to measure in these areas.
It is also the reason why achieves don’t feel particularly well in the environments where the success is not measurable, e.g., in the types of professions such as a “call center consultant” where you cannot get promoted or in areas where you cannot raise your revenue or leverage your impact.
The Necessity to Represent Yourself in Public
As an achiever, you are not just yourself anymore—you are also a brand. Whenever you speak in public, you need to remember that your words have weight. You need to learn how to properly react to unforeseen circumstances such as public critics of some of your work or your decisions, encountering a stalker, or weird and intrusive questions from journalists during press conferences and TV interviews.
Moreover, together with admiration from the public, jealousy also comes to play. You need to learn how to get the right balance and develop a thick skin against critics and fake friends. After all, the best weapon is to become an overly kind and chilled person who can keep a healthy distance from anything that happens to them and keep emotions aside when it comes to a public discussion. For most achievers, it takes many years to learn.
EXAMPLES OF ACHIEVERS IN VARIOUS WORKING ENVIRONMENTS
One natural direction for you as an achiever is to find space in which you can compete and build your name. Depending on your interests, talents, and age, it might be competitive sports or any other discipline you are passionate about. Today, almost any hobby can be gamified and turned into a competition of sorts.
You can take part in a lego-building contest, submit your home garden to a competition, learn how to play bridge or poker and start competing, take part in a local dance competition… There are so many options to satisfy your ambition to become certifiably good at something!
(Social) Media Content Creator
Of course, many achievers find fulfillment in building their own audience through social media, streaming platforms, blogging, and other means of communications. One example is gamers, who not only enjoy competing in video games but also found an additional sport in expanding their outreach and building an audience.
Of course, there are thousands of directions in which you might go as content creators—from activities resembling traditional journalism such as documents and commentaries, through lifestyle blogs and videos, to any content that is of interest to you. It’s all about being authentic, sharing valuable insights, and adjusting the content to the needs of your audience.
Manager/Business Developer Scaling Companies From Zero To IPO
Achievers not only work in entertainment in sports though. Being an achiever is a state of mind, also represented by many managers and entrepreneurs. For instance, there is a specific class of managers and business developers who specialize in scaling companies. When they enter the company, their sole purpose is to restructure and optimize the company in a way to grow it as fast as possible and achieve a better position in the market.
Some managers also specialize in adapting companies to the standards necessary for launching the Initial Public Offering (IPO), namely, listing the company at the stock exchange. IPO is not only prestigious but also usually gives the company an extreme boost in terms of the company valuation. However, lots of requirements need to be met to achieve that goal, and the role process of preparing for an IPO can take years—that’s why goal-oriented, competitive specialists with the achiever’s mindset are especially effective in this type of challenge.
Manager Working in the Private Sector
If you enjoy working with people, then as an achiever you can also think of a career as a manager. Many managers “lead by example,” namely, they become role models to the employees by acting in a way that shows others how to act.
This is a popular management style, both among managers and among employees who enjoy being demonstrated what is expected of them in practice—and who find the managers leading by example relatable and trust them more than others. If you are a mix between an achiever and a manager, it can be a deeply fulfilling career for you!
Professional Investor, e.g., Trader
Therefore are multiple types of investments. Some investors prefer to get actively involved in every investment they ever make. They choose budding companies to work with and offer them not only cash but also time and knowledge. However, some investors don’t have any personal attachment to their investments. The only subject that interests them is how to make good predictions regarding the assets they are interested in, and how to make profits from these predictions.
In other words, the only thing they are interested in is increasing their net worth—it’s a sport of sorts. Achievers usually do well in such a role, as they understand the rules of the game, and they can patiently work towards their goals day by day, without putting unnecessary emotions into the game.
HOW TO DEVELOP A CAREER WITH THIS PROFILE?
How to Start a Career
Naturally, if you have a desire to make considerable achievements in your life, you need to first discover what you are really good—or, talented—at, and what you enjoy doing the most. Otherwise, you will never climb to the top—going for a certain discipline mostly because it is fashionable at the moment, or, because it is well-paid on professional level (as football) rarely leads to good results in the long term. Choosing for talents is the winning strategy. However, discovering your biggest talents is not straight forward—it is the material for the whole new book, and won’t be discussed here.
Furthermore, while choosing career path, you need to make sure you go for your own desires. Many athletes and performers go after their parents’ dreams in fact. They start their careers very early, mostly because their parents leave them under the wings of professionals. And, after a few years of practicing, in teenage years, they start experiencing their first successes. They enjoy the taste of success, and stick to the original plan without giving it a second thought. They only reflect back on their lives twenty or thirty years later, when they come to the realization that they would have been happier and might have potentially achieved much more in another discipline.
It is also very important to think about your values before you ever start your journey as an achiever. It doesn’t come by accident that many achievers put their personal motto in a frame on their desk, and look at it every single day. So, what do you really want to accomplish? What are the essential values in life to you? Your values will keep you on track in the hard moments, therefore, it is crucial to have them well-defined before starting the career. Of course, your experience throughout your career will also shape your values, but it is important to monitor them and stay aware of them at every stage.
Also, when will you be able to pronounce success? If you don’t reach this milestone for some reasons out of your control, will you still be happy about what you do for a living? What are your real motivations to choose this path? Do you have a genuine desire to be the best in the discipline of your choice, or rather, you just aim to prove something to someone? With the wrong type of motivation, you won’t reach very far.
How To Look for Jobs / How To Start Working
Once you know what you really want to do in your life, starting a career as an achiever is organic—it boils down to making a small first step such as going for the first class in certain sport or setting up a personal website. Up from that point, it becomes an everyday grind in a pursuit of greatness.
How To Self-Manage in Daily Life
Of course, that very much depends on the discipline that you chose to work in. As mentioned before, in general, all achievers are self-disciplined and don’t need an extra motivation to keep on working on themselves.
As mentioned before, there are many bottlenecks that might appear on the achiever’s way to success. It is good to develop a stop-loss before you even start, as you might miss out on opportunities otherwise. For instance, if you hear from five independent experts that your body shape or proportions are highly suboptimal for the sport of your choice and will hamper your performance in the long run, perhaps it’s a good moment to reconsider your career in this direction. There is nothing worse for an achiever’s career than wishful thinking.
Of course, many disciplines—such as arts—are highly subjective. If five experts don’t enjoy your paintings, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have future as an artist. In such cases, asking potential audience about their opinion in practice—e.g., by trying to sell your artwork online—might tell you more about your potential to become professional in this area than the experts.
Furthermore, there are multiple critical points in virtually every career—very if it is a very successful one. There is almost no one out there who would experience one success after another without any bumps on the road. In such critical moments, it is good to come back to thinking about your values and ultimate goals. You will need to keep on asking yourself about your “why.” And, your “why” might be changing and developing together with you!
Next, it is crucial for an achiever to surround themselves with the right people. Nothing can destroy a career faster than an incompetent manager, who will not stop you from accepting a bad project. Careers of many promising actors ended after starring in one movie that didn’t perform, got bad reviews from the critics, and flopped in the box office (e.g., Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls, 1995, Alicia Silverstone in Batman & Robin, 1997, or Halle Berry in Catwoman, 2004, Geena Davis in Cutthroat Island, 1995).
As a matter of fact, your family can also make or break your career. An American boxer “Irish” Micky Ward developed his career under the wings of his half-brother Dicky, a boxer-turned-trainer who led him all the way to winning the championship of the World Boxing Union in light welterweight in 2000. On the contrary, some achievers’ careers were blocked by relatives who take your fate in their hands believing they know what is better for you. For instance, an American competitive ice-skater Tonya Harding made headlines when she was banned from professional ice skating after her ex-husband physically attacked her main rival.
Therefore, as an achiever, you need to develop the ability to read people, and to surround yourself with rational people who want good for you, and will help you make good decisions throughout your career. As a rule of thumb, it is also a good practice to find other people with similar talents and aspirations as yours, make friends with them, and motivate each other along the way.
Many successful achievers developed those peer bonds early in their careers, and helped each other succeed (including, e.g., LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox, Emma Stone and Jennifer Lawrence, etc.).
You should also look for personal mentors as early as possible. The positive influence of a mentor on one’s career cannot be overestimated. For some achievers, their personal trainer becomes their mentor, while others look for mentors among more senior and accomplished professionals in their discipline. Probably, it is good to look for both types of mentors as a time, and create a circle of long-term advisors rather than relying on one person.
Lastly, it is important to have a plan B after all. Professional risk is associated with every achiever’s career, and better not to assume that you will be the lucky one. Many budding achievers assume that even if they don’t get the championship that they aspire for, they will still be able to stay in the field by, e.g., professionally training others. They don’t take into account that all their peers have the same plan on their minds, and there is not enough space for everyone to stay around.
Therefore, it is good to think early on about the transferable skills that you will learn on your way and the possible directions where you can go in the job market with those skills in your hand. And, start creating contacts in the associated environments as soon as you can.
EXAMPLES OF FAMOUS ACHIEVERS
An American-Austrian actor, TV personality, movie producer, author, entrepreneur, bodybuilder, activist, and politician. He served as the 38th governor of California (2003-2011). As of 2021, he is the most recent Republican governor of California.
Schwarzenegger was born and raised in Austria. As a teenager, he started weight lighting, and as a 20-year-old, he won the Mr. Olympia contest for the first time (and didn’t get dethroned for another 7 years). During his bodybuilding career, he moved to America and made his first attempts as an entrepreneur. First, he was selling fan gadgets related to him as Master Olympia, and then, proceeded to buy his first real estate properties in California.
He then started his career in Hollywood, gaining international popularity by starring in “Conan the Barbarian” (1982), and then in “The Terminator” (1984) and a range of other action movies. He also launched his film production business Oak Productions. Then, he moved towards politics. Despite the family tensions caused by the fact that his wife, Maria Shriver, comes from the Kennedy family, Schwarzenegger decided to run for the position of Governor of California. On October 7, 2003, he was elected. He was reelected in 2007 and eventually, retired in 2011.
Afterward, he came back to acting and is still taking an active part in politics as an environmental activist and supporter of the Republican Party. Throughout his career—from bodybuilding, through Hollywood, to politics—he was always looking forward to achieving more.
An American investor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, the CEO, and chairman of the investment firm Berkshire Hathaway. He caught the bug for investing in early youth. He graduated from Columbia Business School, where he learned about value investing.
He likes to describe his investment strategy as follows, “The basic ideas of investing are to look at stocks as business, use the market’s fluctuations to your advantage, and seek a margin of safety.” He was building his career as a value investor slowly but systematically. He first worked as an investment salesman for Buffett-Falk & Co. (1951-1954), then as a securities analyst for Graham-Newman Corp. (1954-1956), as a general partner at Buffett Partnership, Ltd. (1956-1969) and lastly, as Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (1970-present).
In 1988, he famously invested in the Coca-Cola stock, and increased his position to the point when Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owned almost 7% of the company. In 2009, together with Bill Gates, he formulated “The Giving Pledge,” according to which billionaires pledge to donate at least more than half of their wealth to charity. His lifelong motto is, “Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No.1.”
He was also following this rule in private, and remained frugal throughout his life; he never bought an expensive estate or a new car. Reportedly, despite being a multibillionaire, Buffett still has the ambition to enter lose a penny. For instance, he can’t stand buying a can of coke for $1 if he can have it on the other side of the street for $0.80.
An American aviation pioneer and author. In 1928, Earhart became the first female to cross the Atlantic by airplane (together with co-pilot Wilmer Stultz).
In 1931, she married a publisher George P. Putnam after accepting his proposal at the seventh go. Their marriage was liberal and based on the partnership, which was far from the standard at the time. In 1932, as the first female in history, she flew across the Atlantic Ocean on her own. Her books describing her experiences as a pilot quickly became international bestsellers. In 1939, Earhart was pronounced dead after she disappeared during an attempt to become the first female to complete a circumnavigational flight around the globe. She was honored with the United States Distinguished Flying Cross and many other honors and awards.
An American entrepreneur, basketball player, and media personality. He actively played in the NBA league for 15 years.
Within that time, he won 6 championships playing for the Chicago Bulls. As an individual player, he won 14 NBA All-Star Game selections, 10 scoring titles, 10 All-NBA First Team designations, 9 All-Defensive First Team honors, 6 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, 5 MVP Awards, 3 All-Star Game MVP Awards, 3 steals titles and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. He also starred in the live-action animated movie “Space Jam” (1996), and the documentary series “The Last Dance” dedicated to Chicago Bulls (2020, honored with an Emmy award). He is internationally acclaimed as the best baseball player of all time.
An American actor, producer, TV personality, and wrestler.
In college, he played football. In 1991, as a student of the University of Miami, he won a national championship of the university league. In 1995, he attempted to become a professional football player but he wasn’t drafted. He then moved towards wrestling and in 1996, he entered the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE). He won the first championship two years later. He wrestled for 8 seasons in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) and then left the federation, moving to the movie industry. He was still occasionally coming back to WWE and wrestling on the side until his final retirement in 2019. He is one of the world’s highest-grossing and highest-paid Hollywood actors today.
A British military, politician, and author, serving as Prime Minister during World War II (1940-1945), and returning after the war (1951-1955).
In youth, when he was serving as a soldier for the British Army, he gained international acclaim as a war correspondent and an author of books about his war campaigns. In 1900, he entered politics, and for the next 40 years, he paved his way to becoming the Prime Minister as the replacement for Neville Chamberlain in 1940. He was a Member of Parliament from 1900 to 1964 (except for 1922 and 1924), changing his political orientation in the process. In 1904, he moved from the Conservative party to Liberal Party and then moved back in 1924.
Right after taking the office, he led the involvement of Great Britain in the war against the Axis. Between 1945-1950, he was the leader of the opposition in the British Parliament. In 1950, he lost the election but won it again a year later, focusing on rebuilding the country after the war, developing nuclear power, and building the key political relation with the US. In 1953, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.
An American producer, talk show host, actress, author, and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Raised by a single mother and as a subject to abuse in childhood, Winfrey had modest beginnings. In high school, she landed her first job in local radio. By the time she finished high school, she co-created the local evening news, and then moved towards the daytime talk show, boosting the third-rated local Chicago talk show to the top of the charts. After that, she launched her own production company. Her talk show was evolving over the years, but the worldwide success happened after she developed the intimate style of speaking with her guests—which was revolutionary in the entertainment industry.
During her career, she won 18 Daytime Emmy Awards and 2 Primetime Emmy Awards. She also won an Oscar, namely the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, and she won nominated for the Academy Award twice, as a supporting actress (for the role in “The Color Purple,” 1985), and as a movie producer (for the movie “Selma,” 2014). She has been ranked the greatest Black philanthropist in American history.
An American golfer, entrepreneur, and author.
In 1996, as a 20-year-old, he dropped out of Stanford University to become a professional golfer. Just less than a year later, he reached the top in the world rankings. Until 2010, he was topping the charts in golf year by year. In this period, he won 13 major championships. After his divorce in 2010, he fell off from the top of the charts, but he climbed back in 2013. Between 2014-2017, he was suffering from several injuries that made him skip almost all competitions and fall off from the top 1,000 charts. In 2018, he returned to competing and he has been climbing up on the charts ever since.
Overall, he won 18 World Golf Championships to date. In 2019, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He holds many world records in golf. In 2001, he wrote a best-selling golf instruction book entitled “How I Play Golf” which sold in 1.5 million copies to date. He also leads the Tiger Woods Foundation where he supports golf among inner-city children. He also founded Tiger Woods Design, a company designing and organizing luxurious golf courses.
An American boxer, poet, author, activist, and philanthropist.
He was born and raised as Cassius Clay. He started boxing as a 12-year-old, and just six years later, he won a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy (in the light heavyweight category). At age 22, he won the world heavyweight title from Sonny Liston. Right after his win, he announced that he changed his name to Muhammad Ali, which was related to his religious beliefs (he turned Muslim in 1961).
In 1966, he refused to join the military as an objection to Vietnam War, and was sentenced to five years in prison as a consequence. Eventually, he was not incarcerated, however, he missed four years in the ring. Then he came back to professional sports, and became an international phenomenon. His fights were watched by the whole world, including his “Rumble in the Jungle” fight against George Foreman in 1974 watched by a estimated television audience of 1.5 billion viewers (about 40% of the world population at a time).
Unlike other boxers at a time, he used to speak for himself at the conferences—often in a confrontational and provocative style, and using spoken word poetry. After working hours as a boxer, he used to spend time as a spoken word artist, and received two Grammy nominations for his poetry. He also wrote two autobiographies. He retired from boxing in 1981, to become an activist and philanthropist. He has been ranked the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time.