MUHAMMAD ALI BOXING LEGEND DIES AT 74

Posted on June 5, 2016

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 Muhammed Ali was renowned as much for his wit and principles as his fighting prowess, died Friday night at age 74, a family spokesman said.

The boxing legend popularly known as “The Greatest” died at a hospital in Arizona, where he had been treated for respiratory issues. “After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74,” spokesman Bob Gunnell said in a statement. He said the funeral would be in Louisville, Kentucky, Ali’s hometown.
Ali was regarded as one of the most charismatic people of his generation. Through his athletic skills, braggadocio and defiance of the government, Ali piled up victories, fans and critics.
He was the first boxer to win the world heavyweight title three times, retiring in 1981 with a record of 56-5, with 37 knockouts. In 1999, he was named Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated and Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC. Time once referred to him as the “best-known person on the planet.”
But he also spent much of his illustrious career shadowed by controversy. As his fame grew, Ali joined the black separatist group Nation of Islam, changing his name from Cassius Clay. He was then forced to sit out several of the prime years of his career for refusing to join the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
He was the first boxer to win the world heavyweight title three times, retiring in 1981 with a record of 56-5, with 37 knockouts. In 1999, he was named Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated and Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC. Time once referred to him as the “best-known person on the planet.”
But he also spent much of his illustrious career shadowed by controversy. As his fame grew, Ali joined the black separatist group Nation of Islam, changing his name from Cassius Clay. He was then forced to sit out several of the prime years of his career for refusing to join the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
After his boxing days ended, Ali immersed himself in philanthropy as he dealt with the onset and advance of Parkinson’s syndrome.
Born Cassius Clay on Jan. 17, 1942, in segregated Louisville, Kentucky, Ali was an unlikely candidate for global stardom. At age 12, his bicycle was stolen, and he told a local police officer that he planned to beat up the thief. The officer, Joe Martin, who also coached boxing, advised the young boy to learn how to fight first and took him under his wing.
Ali held the world heavyweight title until being upset by unheralded Leon Spinks in 1978. He regained the title for a third and final time in a rematch against Spinks that same year, but his skills were eroding and he announced his retirement from boxing in 1979. However, he returned the following year at age 38 to fight Larry Holmes, in an attempt to win a fourth world heavyweight boxing championship. Ali lost that fight and his next, against Trevor Berbick in December 1981. He retired permanently after the loss, on a unanimous 10-round decision.
In 1984, at age 42, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome, which shares symptoms with the degenerative neurological condition of the same name. Some believe Ali’s condition was brought on in part by the many blows his body had absorbed over the years.
“Maybe my Parkinson’s is God’s way of reminding me what is important. It slowed me down and caused me to listen rather than talk,” he said, according to the BBC. “Actually, people pay more attention to me now because I don’t talk as much.”
Despite his health concerns, Ali remained an active philanthropist through his post-boxing days, supporting the Special Olympics, Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in Arizona and a museum bearing his name in Louisville.
Ali is survived by his fourth wife, Lonnie. He had nine children: Laila Ali, who became a professional fighter; Rasheda Ali; Maryum Ali; Miya Ali; Hana Ali; Jamillah Ali; Khaliah Ali; Asaad Amin; and Muhammad Ali Jr.