Muhammad Ali was born as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on Jan. 17, 1942 in a predominantly black West End neighborhood in Louisville. The boxing legend and social activist turns 70 today.

Ali took up boxing at age 12, later becoming a top amateur boxer and Olympic gold medalist. He also went on to on to become the first three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion.

Ali was later stripped of his titles when he was convicted of draft evasion during the Vietnam war.

“I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong… No Viet Cong ever called me nigger,” Ali said about his decision to not appear for the draft.

Ali took his battle all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and in 1971 they ruled in his favor.

Ali celebrated his birthday early on Saturday by hosting a fundraiser at his education center.

The Ali Center is a vessel for sharing Muhammad’s legacy and championing his social significance,” Lonnie Ali said Thursday in a statement to The Associated Press. “The center empowers people – especially youth – to create transformational change in the world.”