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Boxing Legend Mohammad Ali Dead at 74

Updated: Friday, June 3, 2016 – 11:46 PM

(AFP) Muhammad Ali was remembered in tributes worldwide for his iconic fight for social justice as well as his legendary boxing battles following his death Friday at age 74.

“We lost a giant today,” iconic Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao said. “Boxing benefitted from Muhammad Ali’s talents but not as much as mankind benefitted from his humanity.”

Ali spoke out for African-American civil rights in the 1960s, carrying on his fight against injustice and sacrificing prime years of his own career in the process.

“He is, without a question in my mind, the most transformative person of our time,” boxing promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.

“Muhammad Ali had the most influence because he was this great sportsman, great boxer, the way he could connect with people, a great talker, he said what was on his mind, what he thought was right.”

Ali, born Cassius Clay, beat Sonny Liston in 1964 to win the heavyweight title but was stripped of his titles in 1967 when he refused to join the US Army and fight in the Vietnam War. He was banned from boxing until 1970 and in 1971 the US Supreme Court ruled in his favor in sitting out the war.

“When people saw what he had done for what he believed in, threw away 3 1/2 years of his career and he remained steadfast, he came through all of that bigger and more important than ever before,” Arum said.

“People looked at him and said there was something special about him. Any man willing to make that kind of sacrifice for his beliefs had to be respected.”

Boxing began mourning its greatest hero with ultimate praise.

“We lost a legend, a hero and a great man,” said Floyd Mayweather, who retired as an unbeaten welterweight champion last year at 49-0. “He’s one of the guys who paved the way for me to be where I’m at.”

Former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson tweeted: “God came for his champion. So long great one. @MuhammadAli TheGreatest RIP.”

“I definitely feel the loss after his death. He’s a legend around the world, a boxer everyone adored who made boxing interesting,” retired Indonesian boxing star Chris John told AFP on Ali’s passing.

“It’s a great loss, I myself was inspired by him. He was my inspiration when I was growing up.”

Don King, who promoted Ali’s epic victory over George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle,” said Ali will live on forever.

“He was tremendous, not just a boxer, a great human being, icon, and his spirit will never die, like Martin Luther King Jr. They inspired people to do what was right and stand their ground. That is why Muhammad Ali will never die.”

Retired fighter and promoter Oscar de la Hoya praised Ali as “one of the world’s most celebrated athletes, the fighter who ushered in the golden era of boxing and put the sport on the map.

“Ali exemplified courage. He never took the easy route, something to be admired in and outside of the ring. As we reflect on his life, let us remember a man who pursued greatness in everything he did and be inspired to hold ourselves to that same standard.”

“The world has lost a monumental, unforgettable figure,” said Harry Reid, a US Senator from boxing-haven Nevada and a fighter in his younger days.

“Ali was a legend and fighter in every sense of the word. He fought and won inside the ring and fought for equality and justice outside the ring. Ali taught us all about the value of hard work, tenacity and never giving up. There has never been anyone like Muhammad Ali and there never will be again. He leaves behind an indelible legacy that will continue to serve as an inspiration for generations to come.”

US Presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted: “Muhammad Ali is dead at 74! A truly great champion and a wonderful guy. He will be missed by all!”


© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Updated: Friday, June 3, 2016 – 11:46 PM

(AFP) The wit and wisdom of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali’s penchant for poetry and his readiness with a pithy quote delighted some and made others squirm. Here is some of the wit and wisdom of the late boxing icon:

Butterflies and bees”Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Ohhhh. Rumble, young man, rumble.”

— Ali’s signature verse, “Float like a butterfly …” was actually coined by one of his assistant trainers, Drew “Bundini” Brown.

I am the greatest Now Clay swings with a right, what a beautiful swing

And the punch raises the Bear clear of the ring.

Liston is still rising, and the ref wears a frown

For he can’t start counting till Sonny comes down.

Now Liston disappears from view

The crowd is getting frantic

But our radar stations have picked him up —

He’s somewhere over the Atlantic.

Who would have thought when they came to the fight

That they’d witness the launching of a human satellite.

Yes, the crowd did not dream when they lay down their money

That they would see a total eclipse of the Sonny.

I am the greatest.

— part of a poem before upset title victory over Sonny Liston on February 25, 1964

Thoughts on Vietnam”I got no quarrel with them Vietcong.”

— Ali on February 17, 1966

On boxing and war “In the ring we have a referee to stop the fight if one man should become too hurt physically. Boxing is nothing like going to war with machine guns, bazookas, hand grenades and bomber airplanes.”

— Ali at an anti-war demonstration in Chicago, 1967.

Right and wrong “They did what they thought was right, and I did what I thought was right.”

— Ali on the government’s effort to send him to prison

It’s a thrilla “It will be a killa and thrilla and a chilla when I get the Gorilla in Manila.”

— Ali before his victory over Frazier in the “Thrilla in Manila” on October 1, 1975

Joking with Marcos “You’re not as dumb as you look. I saw your wife.”

— Ali to then Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos before the “Thrilla in Manila.”

Beating Foreman You think the world was shocked when Nixon resigned?

Wait till I whup George Foreman’s behind.

Float like a butterfly sting like a bee, his hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.

Now you see me, now you don’t, George thinks he will, but I know he won’t.

I done rassled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale.

Only last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone and hospitalized a brick.

I’m so mean I make medicine sick.

— before regaining the title with a victory over Foreman on October 30, 1974.

Just a man “He (God) gave me Parkinson’s syndrome to show me I’m just a man like everyone else. To show me I’ve got human frailties like everybody else does. That’s all I am: a man.”

— Ali in a 1987 interview.


© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Updated: Friday, June 3, 2016 – 11:46 PM

(CNS) – Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Janet Evans tonight called passing the Olympic torch to Muhammad Ali to light the cauldron at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics “the defining moment of my career.”

Evans won four gold medals, but said passing the Olympic torch to Ali, who died tonight at a Phoenix hospital at the age of 74, was “a memory I will treasure forever, as much as any of the medals I won.”

Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, won a gold medal in boxing in the 1960 Rome Olympics in the light-heavyweight division.

“As Olympians, our role is to inspire others to achieve their dreams, and no person has ever lived that role more than Muhammad Ali,” said Evans, the vice chair and director of athlete relations of LA 2024, the group seeking to bring the 2024 Olympics to Los Angeles.

“On behalf of all of us at LA 2024, we offer our deepest condolences to Muhammad’s family and friends.  He will be sorely missed, but his legacy will forever endure.”

Ali was a three-time world’s heavyweight champion and lived in Los Angeles during the 1970s.

“Muhammad Ali was truly the greatest — an athlete who transcended sports to become a global icon,” Evans said. “He inspired me and millions of others around the world, to be the best version of ourselves.”

Posted: Friday, June 3, 2016 – 10:13 PM

(AFP) Boxing icon Muhammad Ali died on Friday, a family spokesman said in a statement.

“After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74,” spokesman Bob Gunnell said.

Ali, whose fame transcended sport during a remarkable heavyweight boxing career that spanned three decades, had been hospitalized in the Phoenix, Arizona, area with a respiratory ailment this week.

Concern for the three-time heavyweight world champion had grown throughout Friday amid reports that his respiratory trouble was complicated by the Parkinson’s that had left the fighter called “The Greatest” increasingly frail.

Known globally not only for his storied ring career but also for his civil rights activism, Ali had been hospitalized 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.

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 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, 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,” said longtime boxing promoter Bob Arum. “His legacy will be part of our history for all time.”


Updated: Friday, June 3, 2016 – 11:46 PM

The following is a quick look at five fights that defined the career of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who died on Friday at age 74:

Ali-Liston 1 – Ali was 22 and still known as Cassius Clay when he took on heavyweight world champion Sonny Liston for the first time on February 25, 1964 in Miami Beach, Florida.

The brash, fast-talking challenger taunted Liston unceasingly in the build-up to the bout, but few expected him to win.

Clay came out strong, using speed and footwork to his advantage against the slower Liston. After the sixth round, Liston, who was suffering from cuts and bruises under his eyes and an apparent injured shoulder, announced he couldn’t continue. Clay won the match by technical knockout and then proclaimed to the world: “I am the greatest!”

Ali-Liston 2 – On May 25, 1965, Ali met Liston in a rematch in Lewiston, Maine. Ali’s first-round knockout victory remains one of the most controversial results in boxing history.

Midway through the first round, Liston threw a left jab and Ali went over it with a fast right, knocking the former champion down.

Liston went down on his back, rolled over and got to one knee, then fell back again. Many in attendance didn’t see the decisive blow — dubbed by critics the “phantom punch” but called the “anchor punch” by Ali.

The scene was chaotic, with referee Jersey Joe Walcott struggling to get Ali to a neutral corner and some confusion over the count.

Liston said he was hit by a “good, right-hand punch” but said he could have continued had he heard the count clearly.

Ali-Frazier 1 – The original “Fight of the Century” at Madison Square Garden took place on March 8, 1971. The $2.5 million payday for each fighter was the largest for any entertainer or athlete at that time, and 50 countries purchased rights to the telecast.

The fight more than lived up to the hype, with Ali dominating the first three rounds with punishing jabs that marked Frazier’s face.

Frazier began to take control in the fourth with a spate of left hooks and body blows. In the 11th Frazier caught Ali, backed into a corner, with a crushing left hook that almost floored him.

Ali survived and fought well over the next three rounds. Early in the 15th, Frazier put Ali down with another left hook. Ali, his jaw swollen, rose quickly and stayed on his feet amid a hail of blows, but Frazier retained the title with a unanimous decision, handing Ali his first professional defeat.

Rumble in the Jungle – Ali became the second fighter ever, after Floyd Patterson, to regain the heavyweight world title when he knocked out George Foreman in the eighth round in Kinshasa, Zaire, on October 30, 1974.

Ali came out dancing, and Foreman, feared for his punching power and sheer physical presence, went right at him. Early in the second round, Ali went to the ropes and covered up, letting Foreman swing away — later dubbing the strategy the “rope a dope”.

Foreman spent his energy throwing punches in the sweltering heat, egged on by taunts from Ali. Ali staggered Foreman with a combination early in the fourth and again late in the fifth — when the champion was clearly weary.

In the eighth, Ali landed a final combination, a left hook that pulled Foreman’s head up so Ali could nail him with a hard right that sent Foreman staggering back and down. He couldn’t rise before the count and the fight was over.

Thrilla in Manilla – Ali was in a lighthearted mood in the build-up to the third installment of his rivalry with Frazier, who was thought to be washed up after a devastating loss to Foreman.

But Ali’s taunting of Frazier as a “ugly, dumb gorilla” and “White Man’s Champion” infuriated Frazier, who trained with grim intensity for the October 1, 1975 fight.

When Ali came out fast with a flurry of combinations, Frazier pushed forward through the punishment and as Ali tired, Frazier stepped his attack with damaging left hooks.

Frazier dominated the middle rounds, but began to tire in the 10th and Ali started to turn the tide.

In the 11th, Ali connected with a series of speedy combinations that left Frazier’s eyes all but swollen shut. Frazier’s trainer Eddie Futch stopped the fight between the 14th and 15th rounds, over the objections of Frazier, who was hailed by Ali as “the greatest fighter in the world — next to me.”


© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

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