Boxing legend Muhammad Ali dies at 74

Ali died a day after he was admitted to a Phoenix-area hospital with a respiratory ailment.

Scottsdale (Arizona): Muhammad Ali, the former world heavyweight boxing champion whose record-setting career, flair for showmanship and political stands made him one of the best-known figures of the 20th Century, died on Friday aged 74.

Ali, who had long suffered from Parkinson’s syndrome which impaired his speech and made the once-graceful athlete almost a prisoner in his own body, died a day after he was admitted to a Phoenix-area hospital with a respiratory ailment.

Ali’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s came about three years after he retired from boxing in 1981. Even though he rarely appeared in the public in his later years, Ali’s youthful proclamation of himself as “the greatest” rang true until the end for the millions of people worldwide who admired him for his courage both inside and outside the ring.

He struggled on with the disease for three decades, but carried on making public appearances including at the opening ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, stilling the Parkinson’s tremors in his hands enough to light the Olympic flame. He also took part in the opening of the London Olympics in 2012, looking frail in a wheelchair.

Along with a fearsome reputation as a fighter, he spoke out against racism, war and intolerance. As the first black US President, Barack Obama said Ali was “a man who fought for us” and placed him in the pantheon of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.

“Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest human beings I have ever met,” said George Foreman, who lost to Ali in Zaire in a classic 1974 bout known as the “Rumble in the Jungle.” Few could argue with his athletic prowess at his peak in the 1960s. With his dancing feet and quick fists, he could — as he put it — float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

( Source : reuters )
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