World’s greatest heavyweight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali has died at the age of 74. He reportedly died at a hospital in the US city of Phoenix, Arizona, after being admitted on Thursday. The former world heavyweight champion was rushed to hospital on Thursday with breathing problems following a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.
He had spent the past few days being treated for respiratory complications. Some reports say that Ali’s family had started making funeral arrangements after doctors warned that he was just hours from death. Ali’s funeral will take place in his home town of Louisville, Kentucky, his family revealed in a statement.
The three-time heavyweight champion of the world was much more than just a boxer, as he charmed the world with his wit, eloquence and bravery. He was indeed an inspiration to many, going beyond his physical courage to establish himself as a significant figure in the civil rights movement.
Ali who told everyone he is the greatest, shot to fame by winning light-heavyweight gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay on Jan. 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, to middle-class parents, Ali started boxing when he was 12, winning Golden Gloves titles before heading to the 1960 Olympics in Rome, where he won a gold medal as a light heavyweight.
Muhammad Ali in the early 1960s, as his profile rose, converted to Islam and refused to serve in the Vietnam War, becoming an emblem of strength, eloquence, conscience and courage. He renounced Cassius Clay as a “slave name” and said he would be known from then on as Muhammad Ali.
Crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC, Ali was noted for his pre and post-fight talk and bold fight predictions just as much as his boxing skills inside the ring. He was a civil rights campaigner and poet who transcended the bounds of sport, race and of course nationality.
Ali’s death was confirmed by his family in a statement who said the family “would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and support” and asked for privacy. Muhammad Ali had battled Parkinson’s disease for more than 30 years and was admitted to the hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, with a respiratory condition earlier in the week.
May his soul rest in peace.