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Saturday, July 13, 2024
HomeNewsSportsBoxing Legend Muhammad Ali Dead at 74

Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali Dead at 74

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Muhammad-Ali

Muhammad Ali, the legend and three-time heavyweight champion.

Muhammad Ali, the three-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world, died Friday at the age of 74 at a Phoenix hospital. Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome in 1984 and had been hospitalized earlier in the week.

Bob Gunnell, spokesman for the family, said in a statement that Ali’s funeral will take place in his hometown of Louisville, Ky.

“The Ali family would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers, and support and asks for privacy at this time.”

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said all flags on municipal buildings will be lowered to half-staff Saturday in honor of Ali.

Tributes immediately began to pour out on Twitter and social media, including one from another icon George Foreman. “Big” George himself exchanged blows with the “Greatest” in the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” series.

Mike Tyson, fellow boxing legend and follower of Islam, shared a memory and picture on Twitter.

Roy Jones Jr., who some say is the greatest in his weight class, at least in a generation, weighed in on the death of Ali.

Even the presumptive Republican nominee Donald J. Trump, who knew the champion and his family, tweeted his reaction.

Ali, who was born Cassius Clay first gained worldwide notice at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, where he won gold as a heavyweight. Ali, at 6-foot-3 and around 215 pounds, had a 78-inch reach and, in 1964 as a 7-1 underdog, he fought and knocked out Sonny Liston for the professional heavyweight championship. It was before the fight when he made his famous “I am the Greatest” rant and vowed to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” At 22, Ali knocked out Liston in seven rounds, making him at the time the youngest boxing champion in history.

But Ali was also a very controversial figure, a persona was taken to a whole other level after the Liston fight when he announced he would be joining the even more controversial Nation of Islam. He openly praised his friendship with fellow nation Nation member Malcolm X and refused to be drafted for military service in Vietnam, saying “the white man” was more his enemy than the Communists in Vietnam.

“Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong,” adding that “no Vietnamese ever called me n—–.”

Fifteen months after their first fight, Ali won a rematch with a first-round knockout punch that came out of nowhere. It was so quick in fact that many commentators and journalists believed Liston threw the fight. That produced one of the most iconic sports photos in American history, which depicts Ali waving a fist over the knocked-out Liston, screaming at him to get off the canvas.

Due to the controversy and draft-dodging, Ali’s boxing license was revoked in all 50 states and he was not allowed to fight for more than three years. In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned his conviction and Ali would regain the heavyweight title two more times, in 1974 and 1978. He defended that title 19 more times.

Ali is survived by his wife, the former Lonnie Williams, and nine children: Maryum, Rasheda, Jamillah, Hana, Laila, Khaliah, Miya, Muhammad and Asaad. Ali was married four times: to Sonji Roi from 1964 to 1966; to Belinda Boyd from 1967 to 1977; and to Veronica Porsche Ali from 1977 to 1986; and Williams, whom he married in 1986.

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