Boxing legend Muhammad Ali dies at 74

Published: June 4, 2016
According to reports, the 74-year-old was put in intensive care on Friday after he developed respiratory problems. PHOTO: REUTERS

According to reports, the 74-year-old was put in intensive care on Friday after he developed respiratory problems. PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOENIX: Heavyweight boxing legend Muhammad Ali, a 20th Century icon whose fame transcended sport during a remarkable career that spanned three decades, died Friday, his family said.

The 74-year-old sports hero, who had been battling Parkinson’s disease for decades, passed away in a hospital here where he had been admitted earlier this week suffering from respiratory problems.

‘The Greatest’ Muhammad Ali in pictures

“After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74,” spokesman Bob Gunnell said.

“The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died this evening.”

Funeral arrangements for Ali would be announced on Saturday, he added, with the champion to be buried in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

Ali had been living in the Phoenix area with his fourth wife, Lonnie, whom he married in 1986. He was survived by nine children, seven daughters and two sons.

As the family gathered at his bedside on Friday, concern for Ali had grown.

Upon his death tributes immediately poured in for “The Greatest,” who was known globally not only for his storied ring career but also for his humanitarian activism.

“Muhammad Ali transformed this country and impacted the world with his spirit,” said longtime boxing promoter Bob Arum. “His legacy will be part of our history for all time.

“He is, without a question in my mind, the most transformative person of our time,” Arum said.

Ali had been hospitalized multiple times in recent years.

In 2014 he was treated for a mild case of pneumonia and again in 2015 for a urinary tract infection.

Muhammad Ali: ‘Greatest’ boxer, showman, ambassador

His Parkinson’s, thought to be linked to the thousands of punches he took during a career studded by bruising battles inside the ropes, had limited his public speaking.

But he continued to make appearances and offer opinions through his family members and spokespeople.

In April, he attended a Celebrity Fight Night Dinner in Phoenix that raised funds for treatment of Parkinson’s.

In December, he issued a statement rebuking US presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Ali’s 30-year career, which stretched from 1960 to 1981 and saw him retire with a record of 56-5, included such historic bouts as the Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman.

Don King promoted that watershed bout in Kinshasa, Zaire, in 1974, in which Ali used his “Rope a Dope” strategy to best Foreman and become just the second fighter ever to regain the heavyweight world title.

“His spirit will go on forever,” King said of Ali. “He represents what every athlete and sports person tries to do, an attitude of getting it done, success, he was fabulous.

“A great human being, and a champion of the people. The greatest of all times.”

Other defining moments of Ali’s career included two knockouts of Sonny Liston and his thrilling rivalry with Joe Frazier — which saw the two men slug it out in the ring and verbally spar out of it.

“Ali, Frazier & Foreman, we were 1 guy. A part of me slipped away — the greatest piece” Foreman wrote on Twitter shortly after Ali’s death was announced.

Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson added: “God came for his champion. So long great one. @MuhammadAli #TheGreatest #RIP.”

Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr in Louisville, Kentucky, dazzled fans with slick moves in the ring, and with his wit and engaging persona outside it.

His refusal to serve in the Vietnam War saw him banned from the sport for years, but the US Supreme Court overturned his conviction for draft dodging in 1971.

He took the name of Muhammad Ali after converting to Islam in 1964, soon after he had stunned the sport by claiming the title with a monumental upset of Liston.

Last name Ever, first name Greatest: 11 memorable quotes by Muhammad Ali

He was vilified in some quarters for that conversion and his outspoken stance on Vietnam and civil rights issues. His refusal to fight in Vietnam saw him prosecuted for draft evasion, and led to him being effectively banned for boxing for three years of his prime.

But he held firm to his beliefs and eventually earned accolades as an activist.

He received the highest US civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2005.

Ali represented the United Nations as a messenger of peace and was chosen to light the Olympic torch in 1996, when he was already weakened by Parkinson’s.

Tributes flooded in from around the world — celebrities, politicians, reporters that covered him, athletes and of course boxers praised Ali for his superb work in and out of the ring.

Floyd Mayweather, who retired from boxing last year with a perfect 49-0 record, recalled the awe he felt in meeting Ali in ’96, when he was a US Olympian.

“I didn’t really know what to say. I couldn’t believe it,” Mayweather said. “I didn’t even want to show my true feelings and emotions of how I felt.”

Twenty years on, Mayweather was clear on his view of Ali’s legacy — forged inside and outside the ring.

“Never be afraid,” Mayweather said. “Never stop believing. And never settle for less.”

Mayweather’s great rival Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines said the world had lost “a giant”.

“Boxing benefitted from Muhammad Ali’s talents, but not as much as mankind benefitted from his humanity,” Pacquiao said.

Muhammad Ali put on life support as condition worsens

British Prime Minister David Cameron praised Ali on Twitter as “a champion of civil rights, and a role model for so many people,” while India’s Narendra Modi said he was a “source of inspiration who demonstrated the power of human spirit & determination.”


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Reader Comments (27)

  • Hakim Afghani
    Jun 4, 2016 - 9:37AM

    R.I.P LEGEND :(Recommend

  • Abdullah
    Jun 4, 2016 - 9:43AM

    Innalillhi Wa Inna ilaihi Rajioun. Recommend

  • sabi
    Jun 4, 2016 - 9:59AM

    Catch me if you can..
    He was the only sportsman whom the whole world had loved.
    Great Muhammad Ali you rest in peace.Recommend

  • Jun 4, 2016 - 10:10AM

    A shocking news for all over the world, sports loving citizens, Ali was a man of great character and dignity. May his soul rest in peace.
    The government of Pakistan should declear a day of mourning and special prayers be held for the departed soul.Recommend

  • Sajid Qureshi
    Jun 4, 2016 - 10:26AM

    It is hard to be humble when you are as great as I am ~ Muhammad AliRecommend

  • JD
    Jun 4, 2016 - 10:34AM

    Inalilahe Waina Ilaihe Rajeoon. May Allah give him the highest status in Jannat. Ameen.Recommend

  • Tariq
    Jun 4, 2016 - 10:42AM

    ‘Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.’ Muhammad Ali

    Rest in peace champ!Recommend

  • Raisani
    Jun 4, 2016 - 10:58AM

    Inalillah e wa ina alaihe rajiuon! He will be remembered for centuries. Recommend

  • Afzaal Ansari
    Jun 4, 2016 - 11:22AM

    massive loss that is irretrievableRecommend

  • Hassaan
    Jun 4, 2016 - 11:29AM

    Innalillhi Wa Inna ilaihi Rajioun.Recommend

  • سے Shaam (Hanafi)
    Jun 4, 2016 - 11:38AM

    R.I.P Cassius Clay Junior (Moh. Ali) – Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un… Sad what a painful way to die…Recommend

  • Raghu
    Jun 4, 2016 - 11:53AM

    God gave me this illness to remind me that I am not the Greatest, He is.Recommend

  • Prada
    Jun 4, 2016 - 12:57PM

    The World is poorer today. RIP Ali. You were really the greatest.Recommend

  • Mastishhk
    Jun 4, 2016 - 1:07PM

    I think Shahid Afridi is the best ever athlete !Recommend

  • Nikki
    Jun 4, 2016 - 1:43PM

    @Sajid Qureshi:

    humility is the beauty of humanityRecommend

  • Yousuf
    Jun 4, 2016 - 4:03PM

    Really saddened by the newsRecommend

  • Khilari
    Jun 4, 2016 - 4:59PM

    Inna lillahi…. He will be remembered forever. Recommend

  • Shakti
    Jun 4, 2016 - 5:06PM

    A truly great man. I looked through his videos on Youtube and I was overcome with sadness. We will never see another quite like him. RIP Ali !!Recommend

  • Anwar
    Jun 4, 2016 - 7:18PM

    The greatest man there ever was #RIPRecommend

  • hoshiar singh gill
    Jun 4, 2016 - 7:27PM

    Sad news. RIP Muhammad ! Briliant man World will miss you! Akaal Purakh sahai….. May Eternal Lord bless your soul with peace and tranquillity !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Jun 4, 2016 - 7:54PM

    His refusal to fight in Vietnam brought prosecution to his person but awakening to the people at home and the world at large about the sham of Amercan military war of annhlilation against the vietnamese folks. He was indeed the greatest human, the greatest afro American and the greatest boxer of all times. Rest in peace Sir and may God almighty bless you. You will remain the inspiration for generations to come.

    Rex Minor Recommend

  • Javid
    Jun 4, 2016 - 8:13PM

    Muhammad Ali and Neil Armstrong the greatest converts to Islam in 20th century. Both sadly no more. Both greatly strengthed Islam and provided inspiration to converts around the world. Recommend

  • Jamil
    Jun 4, 2016 - 8:24PM

    Greatest person in the World, May Allah rest him in Peace n grant him Janat e Firdous. Recommend

  • tuk
    Jun 4, 2016 - 10:54PM

    In 70s schools used to close for Muhammad Ali’s fights. Now a small news of his death. I guess Pakistanis forgot him.Recommend

  • Fahim
    Jun 5, 2016 - 12:23AM

    Innalillahi Wa Inna ilaihi Rajioun.Recommend

  • Boxer
    Jun 5, 2016 - 10:07AM

    I thought that he has been died years ago because people always used to talk about young Muhammad Ali and not the older one.Recommend

  • Fahad Khan
    Jun 9, 2016 - 10:49AM

    Muhammad…Muhammad Ali….floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee

    Alas the great Mohammad Ali has passed away after severe illness at the age of 74.
    His death has triggered tributes from all over the world from his fans and those who only knew him as the Great Muhammad Ali.
    Pakistanis are also paying tribute to Mohammad Ali as he has a great following among the people here. In fact the people of Lyari – which has 400 boxing clubs and ‘birthplace of boxer Hussain Shah who won Pakistan an Olympics bronze medal in 1988’ – are understandably saddened by the death of Ali – especially the numerous boxers who saw him as their inspiration.
    For these boxers of Lyari Muhammad Ali was a force that stood against all odds and still managed to shine brightly. Many aspiring boxers considered him to be their hero – even those who had been born years after Ali fought his last fight.
    It will be a long time for another like Muhammad Ali to be born.Recommend

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