The Greatest Legendary Boxer Muhammad Ali Dead at Aged 74
Ali had suffered for 32 years with Parkinson’s disease, having been diagnosed three years after his retirement in 1981. His family’s spokesman Bob Gunnell confirmed Ali’s death in Phoenix, Arizona, on Friday evening local time.
Born Cassius Clay on Jan. 17, 1942, Ali first stepped in the ring at age 12 in his hometown of Louisville, Ky., after his bicycle was stolen and a police officer suggested he learn how to box. Ali went on to become one of the most successful athletes and revered public figures in history.
At age 22, he stunned the larger Liston, beating the champ in seven rounds in Miami to win his first heavyweight title. In their next match in 1965, Ali floored Liston with a hard, quick blow minutes into the bout and retained his crown when the referee stopped the fight.
He dubbed himself “The Greatest” and “The People’s Champion” and certainly lived up those expectations, crowned “Sportsman of the 20th Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the 20th Century” by the BBC.
In 2005, he was awarded the highest U.S. civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Late last year, Ali hit at Donald Trump following his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S. “I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world,” Ali said in a statement. “True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.”
Ali 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.
The funeral will take place in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.