BOXING LEGEND MUHAMMAD ALI DIES AT 74
Sad! Sad! Sad! The greatest is gone.
Ali, who was admitted into the hospital earlier this week with a respiratory issue was said to be in fair condition and was expected to have a brief stay at the hospital.......sadly it was brief indeed, no thanks to death.
Muhammad Ali died Friday at age 74, according to a statement from the family. His children had flown in from around the country.
A funeral will be held in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. The city plans a memorial service Saturday.
"The values of hard work, conviction and compassion that Muhammad Ali developed while growing up in Louisville helped him become a global icon," Fischer said. "As a boxer, he became The Greatest, though his most lasting victories happened outside the ring."
Ali dominated sports for two decades before time and Parkinson's disease, triggered by thousands of blows to the head, ravaged his magnificent body, muted his wonderful voice and ended his storied career in 1981.
He won and defended the heavyweight championship in epic fights in exotic locations, spoke loudly on behalf of blacks, and famously refused to be drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War because of his Muslim beliefs.
Despite being ill, he traveled the world to rapturous receptions even after his once-bellowing voice was quieted and he was left to communicate with a wink or a weak smile.
"He was the greatest fighter of all time but his boxing career is secondary to his contribution to the world," promoter Bob Arum told the AP early Saturday. "He's the most transforming figure of my time certainly."
Ali fought in three different decades, finished with a record of 56-5 with 37 knockouts -- 26 of those bouts promoted by Arum -- and was the first man to win heavyweight titles three times.
He whipped the fearsome Sonny Liston twice, toppled the mighty George Foreman with the rope-a-dope in Zaire, and nearly fought to the death with Joe Frazier in the Philippines. Through it all, he was trailed by a colorful entourage who merely added to his growing legend.
And rumble Ali did. He fought anyone who meant anything and made millions of dollars.His fights were so memorable that they had names -- "Rumble in the Jungle" and "Thrilla in Manila."
But it was as much his antics -- and his mouth -- outside the ring that transformed the man born Cassius Clay into a household name as Muhammad Ali.
"I am the greatest," Ali thundered again and again.
Ali shocked white America when he joined the Black Muslims and changed his name. He defied the draft at the height of the Vietnam war -- "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong" -- and lost 3 1/2 years from the prime of his career. He entertained world leaders, once telling Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos: "I saw your wife. You're not as dumb as you look."
He later embarked on a second career as a missionary for Islam.
"Boxing was my field mission, the first part of my life," he said in 1990, adding with typical braggadocio, "I will be the greatest evangelist ever."
Ali couldn't fulfill that goal because Parkinson's robbed him of his speech. It took such a toll on his body that the sight of him in his later years -- trembling, his face frozen, the man who invented the Ali Shuffle now barely able to walk -- shocked and saddened those who remembered him in his prime.
"People naturally are going to be sad to see the effects of his disease," Hana, one of his daughters, said, when he turned 65. "But if they could really see him in the calm of his everyday life, they would not be sorry for him. He's at complete peace, and he's here learning a greater lesson."
Ali once calculated he had taken 29,000 punches to the head and made $57 million in his pro career, but the effect of the punches lingered long after most of the money was gone. That didn't stop him from traveling tirelessly to promote Islam, meet with world leaders and champion legislation dubbed the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. While slowed in recent years, he still managed to make numerous appearances, including a trip to the 2012 London Olympics.
Despised by some for his outspoken beliefs and refusal to serve in the U.S. Army in the 1960s, an aging Ali became a poignant figure whose mere presence at a sporting event would draw long standing ovations.
With his hands trembling so uncontrollably that the world held its breath, he lit the Olympic torch for the 1996 Atlanta Games in a performance as riveting as some of his fights.
REST ON GREAT MUHAMMAD ALI....YOU'RE GONE BUT YOUR LEGACY DEFINITELY LIVES ON!!
source: msn sports
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