Before Tyson, before Jordan, before Serena there was only Ali.
Setting the template for the globally-known sports star, Muhammad Ali passed away late Friday night at the age of 74.
Word came from Bob Gunnel who told CNN that “after a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74. . . The Ali family would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers, and support and asks for privacy at this time.” Ali had been admitted to the hospital Thursday for respiratory problems.
Ali’s daughter Hana sent out the following tweet in remembrance:
Our father was a “Humble Mountain!” And now he has gone home to God. God bless you daddy. YOU ARE THE LOVE OF MY LIFE!
— Hana Ali (@Hanayali) June 4, 2016
Born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky, Ali quickly rose to prominence as a brash, young firebrand who bragged and taunted his opponents in and out of the ring. In the early 60s, Ali became close with Civil Rights leader Malcolm X and helped in his 1964 conversion to Islam, where he left his “slave name” Clay behind.
Ali not only had tough fights in the ring, but in the press as well. In 1966, he deemed himself a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War and refused to report for service stating: “”I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong—no Viet Cong ever called me nigger.” Though winning much support from the Black community, Ali was punished with a guilty conviction of draft dodging and banned from boxing for several years.
After his conviction was overturned, Ali came back to boxing with some major fights including the “Thrilla in Manilla” against George Foreman in Africa.
Soon after retiring in 1981, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and though he began retreating from the public scene, Ali famously acted as the last torchbearer in the 1996 Olympics. In 2001, his life hit the big screen with Will Smith in the Oscar-nominated role as the mouthy champ.
Ali leaves behind his wife Lonnie and seven children, including boxing legend Laila Ali.
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