Muhammad Ali, who once self-proclaimed that he is “The Greatest” and have proved to the World that he is indeed the Greatest Boxer of All Time died at the age of 74 on Friday 4th of June 2016 at a Phoenix hospital where he was treated for respiratory complications.
Family spokesman Bob Gunnell has this to say — “After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74. The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died this evening”. The funeral service is planned to take place at his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
Ali despite suffering from Parkinson’s Disease which had deteriorated his physical dexterity and physical functions continued to be on the spotlight on Politics one of the latest was his criticism of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump regarding his plan of banning Muslims from entering the United States. As per Muhammad — “We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda.” Muhammad Ali converted to Muslim in the 1960s when he was the heavyweight champion of the world while also refusing to serve in the Vietnam War.
— Roots Of Fight (@rootsoffight) June 11, 2016
Muhammad Ali, son to middle-class parents, was born as Cassius Clay on Jan. 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Ali’s boxing career started when he began training at the age of 12, which eventually led him to win the gold medal in the 1960 Olympics in Rome in the light heavyweight division, he is also a Golden Glove winner.
After the 1960 Olympics he became a professional boxer bankrolled by the Louisville business owners on a 50-50 split in earnings. During this time he was nicknamed “the Louisville Lip” because of his constant talk on his own talent. After earning his time training in his hometown he moved to Miami to train with the legendary trainer Angelo Dundee with the hopes of winning the heavyweight title.
Ali was guided by the Nation of Islam and inspired by one of its leaders Malcolm X, and he eventually converted to Muslim in 1963, which advocated racial separation and rejected the pacifism of most civil rights activism.
At the age of 22 Cassius Clay renounced his “slave name” adopted Muhammad Ali which was given by Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad. Fans became divided because some didn’t like the idea of rejecting your birth name in exchange for a Muslim name.
— Old Pics Archive (@oldpicsarchive) June 11, 2016
Ali was the heavyweight champion on six title defenses when he was drafted to serve in the U.S. army to be deployed in the Vietnam War. He refused to serve and has this to say — “My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, some poor, hungry people in the mud, for big powerful America, and shoot them for what? They never called me nigger. They never lynched me. They didn’t put no dogs on me.”
Ali was sentenced to five years in prison and all boxing titles removed when he refused to obey his command of stepping forward when his name was called at the Army recruiting station.
He was eventually released on appeals but was banned to fight or leave the country. He says — “My enemy is the white people, not Vietcongs or Chinese or Japanese. You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice. You my opposer when I want equality. You won’t even stand up for me in America for my religious beliefs and you want me to go somewhere and fight but you won’t even stand up for me here at home.”
While the government was unhappy with his refusal and opinion, he was in good light with the antiwar activists and black nationalists.
The appeal was four years long before it reached the U.S. Supreme Court, and on a unanimous decision saw the Department of Justice improperly told the draft board that Ali’s refusal was not motivated by religious belief.
Before Ali’s legal proceedings progressed, Georgia was fine issuing Ali a boxing license where he beat Jerry Quarry. He then lost to Joe Frazier in a 15-round duel billed as “the fight of the century” six months later which became Ali’s first professional defeat as a pro.
Ali and Frazier rematched in 1974 and Ali won unanimously via decision, becoming the top lead challenger for the heavyweight title.
He became the heavyweight champion of he world when he won against George Foreman in 1974, a fight popularly called until today as the “The Rumble in the Jungle”. The fight is when he first unleashed his still famous and gold standard strategy known as “rope-a-dope,”, a strategy that pushed the opponent to tire out attacking while he leaned back on the road to evade the attack. He knocked out Foreman in the 8th round.
“Thrilla in Manila” is one of the most famous fights of Muhammad Ali as he fought Frazier for the third time winning on a technical knockout in the 15th round. The greatest was able to defend his title until he was beaten by Leon Spinks in 1978. After the loss he got his title back then retired in 1979. In 1980 he decided to come back and fought Larry Holmes and lost. He again fought and lost against Trevor Berbick then retired for the last and final time.
After Ali’s retirement he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and has this to say — “I’m in no pain. A slight slurring of my speech, a little tremor. Nothing critical. If I was in perfect health — if I had won my last two fights — if I had no problem, people would be afraid of me. Now they feel sorry for me. They thought I was Superman. Now they can go, ‘He’s human, like us. He has problems.”
— IMDb (@IMDb) June 11, 2016
Despite his retirement and Parkinson’s Disease he remained a well respected athlete and was chosen to light the Olympic Torch in Atlanta 1996. He spent the next few years traveling shuffling between appearances that allowed him to continue making income and philanthropic activities. During this time he was able to meet notable people from presidents, royalty, even the Pope.
President W. Bush awarded Ali with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. He was also honored in his hometown of Louisville by opening Muhammad Ali Center, a place to learn the life of Ali, and promote tolerance and respect.
Muhammad Ali has nine children, divorced thrice but lived the longest with his last wife Yolanda “Lonnie” Williams in Berrien Springs, Michigan, after which they moved to Arizona.
One of the last significant quotes from Ali says this — “I never thought of the possibility of failing, only of the fame and glory I was going to get when I won,” Ali wrote. “I could see it. I could almost feel it. When I proclaimed that I was the greatest of all time, I believed in myself, and I still do.”