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Muhammad Ali - Boxing legend dies at 74

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali - one of the world's greatest sporting figures - has died at the age of 74. The former World Heavyweight Champion died late on Friday at a hospital in the US city of Phoenix, Arizona, having been admitted on Thursday.

An icon of the 20th Century whose fame transcended the sport during a remarkable career that spanned three decades, a heavyweight boxing legend Muhammad Ali died Friday at the age of 74 in Los Angeles. He was suffering from Parkinson's disease for decades, passed away in a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, where he had been admitted earlier this week suffering from respiratory problems according to his family.

 

Family Spokesman Bob Gunnell said: “Muhammad Ali at the age of 74, the three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died Friday after a 32-year battling with Parkinson's disease.”

 

Concern for Ali had grown throughout Friday, and tributes immediately poured in for "The Greatest," who was known globally not only for his storied ring career but also for his humanitarian activism.

 

 

Ali had been hospitalized multiple times in recent years. He did spent time in hospital in 2014 after suffering a mild case of pneumonia and again in 2015 for a urinary tract infection. His Parkinson's, thought to be linked to the thousands of punches he took during a brutal 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.

 

Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali

 

Longtime boxing promoter Bob Arum said: “In April, he attended a Celebrity Fight Night Dinner in Phoenix that raised funds for treatment of Parkinson's and in December; he issued a statement rebuking US presidential hopeful Donald Trump's call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. Muhammad Ali transformed this country and impacted the world with his spirit. His legacy will be part of our history for all time."

 

 

His 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 in 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire. Other defining moments of his 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 Sonny Liston. He was vilified in some quarters for that conversion and his outspoken stance on Vietnam and civil rights issues, but he held firm to his beliefs and eventually earned accolades as an activist. He was chosen to light the Olympic torch in 1996 in Atlanta and was named a UN messenger of peace in 1998. He received the highest US civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2005.

 

Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali Best Knockout

 

Muhammed Ali said he wanted to be remembered as:  “A man who won the heavyweight title three times, who was humorous and who treated everyone right. A man who never looked down on those who looked up to him...who stood up for his beliefs...who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love. And if all that's too much, then I guess I'd settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people. And I wouldn't even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was."

Sources:  BBC and News24 

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