The Greatest Rest In Peace – Muhammad Ali All time Boxing King dies at 74

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Muhammad Ali - The Greatest
Muhammad Ali - The Greatest

We will miss you ‘THE GREATEST’

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

 

Muhammad Ali, The Greatest what world called him, the charismatic three-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world and Olympic gold medallist ,a symbol of the anti-war movement of the 1960s finally a global ambassador for cross-cultural understanding, died Friday night at a hospital in Phoenix, where he was living. He was 74 years old.

He had been hospitalized with respiratory problems due to Parkinson’s disease, which had been diagnosed in the 1980s.

Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. his name at the time of birth, was born Jan. 17, 1942, in Louisville. His father was a sign-painter, and his mother was a homemaker.

Mr. Ali began boxing at age 12 to exact revenge on a thief who had stolen his bicycle. He quickly learn the trick of the trade, and he won several national amateur boxing championships before he graduated from high school in 1960.

He went to the Summer Olympics in Rome and came back with the gold medal in the light-heavyweight division, thrashing a three-time European champion from Poland. He was only 18 years old.

Mr. Ali then became a professional fighter, signing a contract with 12 wealthy supporters who called themselves the Louisville sponsoring group, or syndicate. After working briefly with light-heavyweight champion Archie Moore, Mr. Ali joined forces with trainer Angelo Dundee, whom he had met several years earlier. Dundee took Mr. Ali to Miami Beach, Fla., to train at the fabled Fifth Street Gym on a then-run-down street corner.

 

 

Mr. Ali dominated boxing rings in the 1960s and 1970s and held the heavyweight title three times. His fights were among the most memorable and spectacular in history and his standing as the country’s most visible member of the Nation of Islam.

Winning heavyweight championship in 1964, defeating formidable Sonny Liston surprised everyone. The next day, he announced that he was a member of the Nation of Islam, a move considered shocking at the time, especially for an athlete. He soon changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

 

“I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be,” he said at the time, signalling his intent to define his career on his own terms. “I’m free to be what I want.”

 

He often spoke in rhyme, using it to belittle his opponents and embellish his own abilities. “This is the legend of Cassius Clay, the most beautiful fighter in the world today,” he said before his 1964 title bout. “The brash young boxer is something to see, and the heavyweight championship is his destiny.”

One of his assistants, Drew “Bundini” Brown, captured his lithe, graceful presence in the ring, saying Mr. Ali would “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” The description entered the popular lexicon.

Malcolm X, who recruited Mr. Ali to the Nation of Islam, once anointed him “the black man’s hero.”

In 1967, after Mr. Ali had been heavyweight champion for three years, he refused to be inducted into the Army during the Vietnam War. Despite the seeming contradiction of a boxer advocating nonviolence, he gave up his title in deference to the religious principle of pacifism.

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam,” Mr. Ali said in 1967, “while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”

 His title was immediately taken away, and he was banned from his sport for more than three years. He was sentenced to five years in prison, but a prolonged appeals process kept him from serving time.

A casual statement he made in 1966 – “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong” – distilled the antiwar views of a generation.

“Ali, along with Robert Kennedy and the Beatles in the persona of John Lennon, captured the ’60s to perfection,” writer Jack Newfield told Thomas Hauser, the author of a 1991 oral biography, “Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times.”

In 1996, Mr. Ali stood at the top of a podium during the opening ceremonies of the Summer Games in Atlanta in what became one of the most indelible moments in Olympic history. Shakily holding the torch as an estimated 3 billion people watched on television, Mr. Ali lit the Olympic flame, marking the official beginning of the Games. He stood alone before the world, a fragile, yet still indomitable demigod.

 ‘I shook up the world!’

 

Ali won 100 out of 108 amateur fights and also won a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. There were several reports later that he allegedly chucked the medal into a river after a waitress at a soda fountain in Louisville refused to serve him because he was black.

Ali retired in 1981 after losing to Trevor Berbick in his 61st career bout.

He finished his career in 1981 with a record of 56 wins (including 37 by knockout) and five losses.

Three years later, he was diagnosed with Parkinson disease.

Ali, who called himself “The Greatest,” was married four times and had nine children, including daughter Laila, who also became a professional boxer. Ali and his fourth wife, Yolanda “Lonnie” Williams, had been married since 1986.