Muhammad Ali: Boxing legend dies aged 74

Posted on June 3, 2016 11:29 pm

Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali has died aged 74 in a Phoenix hospital following a short battle with a respiratory illness.I wasn’t yet born to have watched his fights but the glowing tributes of Ali have been coming thick and fast since his death was announced with over 1.5 million tweets.Ali, regarded as the greatest professional boxer in the history of the sport, was admitted to hospital earlier this week with the illness and died few hours ago. Ali had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for more than three decades.”After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74,” Ali family spokesman Bob Gunnell said. Ali compiled a 56-5 win-loss record as a professional boxer and won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.Prior to turning professional, Ali won the light heavyweight gold at the Rome Olympics, having beaten Australia’s Tony Madigan in the semi-finals.Ali, born in Louisville, Kentucky, as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr, changed his name in 1964 after his conversion to Islam. His legendary boxing career stretched from 1960 to 1981, entertaining fans with slick moves in the ring, and with his wit and engaging persona outside it. Ali’s opposition to the Vietnam War saw him banned from the sport for years, but the US Supreme Court overturned his conviction for draft dodging in 1971. Ali took part in such historic bouts as the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ against George Foreman in 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire.Foreman entered the match undefeated at 40-0, while Ali was 44-2 at the age of 32.What was scheduled to be a 15-round bout ended in the middle of the eighth, though, with Ali pulling off a feat that no other boxer had ever done knocking out Foreman. It was Ali’s 32nd career knockout. He’d go on to achieve five more before retiring. It was a long-awaited matchup between boxing’s two biggest personalities. Ali was suspended from boxing in 1967, and in his absence, Foreman had taken over as the sport’s most dominant fighter. When Ali was finally reinstated, a fight between the pair was inevitable.The Rumble in the Jungle was the birthplace of the famous “rope-a-dope” strategy deployed by Ali. Starting in the second round, Ali began intentionally leaning back against the ropes as Foreman belted him with power blow after power blow all by design, and it worked. By the eighth round, Foreman had worn himself out, and Ali connected with a five-punch combination ending with a left hook to Foreman’s head.

Muhammad Ali fight with George Foreman in Kinshasa Zaire
Muhammad Ali fight with George Foreman in Kinshasa Zaire

Ali’s two bouts against Joe Frazier are considered as the most publicized fights in the history of boxing. Ali’s robe and gloves worn during the bout are found in the National Museum of American History.One great moments of his career included two knock-outs of Sonny Liston and his epic rivalry with Frazier, highlighted by the ‘Thrilla in Manilla‘.Tributes have been flowing with George Foreman writing on Twitter ”Ali, Frazier & Foreman, we were 1 guy. A part of me slipped away – the greatest piece” shortly after Ali’s death was announced. Former heavyweight champion Mike Iron Tyson added: “God came for his champion. So long great one. @MuhammadAli #TheGreatest #RIP.”  Floyd Mayweather Jr has also written on his Twitter few moments ago saying ”Words can’t explain what Muhammad Ali did for the sport of boxing.” “He’s one of the guys that paved the way for me to be where I’m at today.”We lost a legend, a hero, and a great man.“”Muhammad Ali transformed this country and impacted the world with his spirit,” long-time boxing promoter Bob Arum said.”His legacy will be part of our history for all time.”Ali also lit up the Olympic torch in 1996 in Atlanta and was also named a UN messenger of peace in 1998.Ali received the highest US civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2005.Known globally not only for his storied ring career but also for his civil rights activism, Ali had been hospitalised multiple times in recent years.He spent time in hospital in 2014 after suffering a mild case of pneumonia and again in 2015 for a urinary tract infection.Ali’s Parkinson’s, thought to be linked to the thousands of punches he took during a career that spanned three decades, had limited his public speaking for years.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 2015, he issued a statement rebuking US presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. Below are some of Muhammad Ali’s quotes

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. George can’t hit what his eyes can’t see. Now you see me, now you don’t. He thinks he will, but I know he won’t. They tell me George is good, but I’m twice as nice. And I’m gonna stick to his butt like white on rice.”

“I don’t like fighters who talk too much.”

“After I’m through beatin’ him I think he’ll have to join the Beatles and be a singer.”

“Joe’s gonna come out smokin’ but I ain’t gonna be jokin’. I’ll be peckin’ and a pokin’, pourin’ water on his smokin’. And this might shock and amaze ya, but I will destroy Joe Frazier.”

“Ain’t [Liston] ugly? He’s too ugly to be the world champ. The world champ should be pretty like me.”

“It’s hard to be humble when you’re as pretty as I am.”

“Whatever truculent means — if that’s good, I’m that.”

“I am the king of the world! I’m pretty! I’m a bad man!”

“I predict that [Liston] will go at eight to prove that I am great. If he wanna go to heaven, I’ll get him in seven. He’ll be in a worse fix if I cut it to six. And if he keeps talkin’ jive, I’ll cut it to five.”

“I have wrestled with an alligator. I done tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning, threw thunder in jail. That’s bad. Only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick. I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”

“If you like to lose your money, then be a fool and bet on Sonny, but if you wanna have a good day, then put it on Clay.”

“Last night I cut the light off in my bedroom, hit the switch, and was in the bed before the room was dark.”

Contador Harrison