Legendary boxer, the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali died today at age 74, following a 32 year battle with Parkinson's disease. ...
Legendary boxer, the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali died today at age 74, following a 32 year battle with Parkinson's disease.
A day after he was rushed to the hospital with severe respiratory complications including difficulty breathing, and was on life support, Muhammad Ali left the world to meet his maker, surrounded by family members.
The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer's funeral will be held in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
Ali was found barely breathing at his home on Thursday, and was taken to the hospital with an unshakeable cough.
His fatal respiratory problems were likely cause by his Parkinson's disease, and doctors had warned the family that Ali's condition was rapidly deteriorating.
The silver tongued boxer and civil rights champion, who famously proclaimed himself 'The Greatest', suffered from the neurological disease for three decades, which robbed him both of his well-known verbal grace and physical dexterity.
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay on January 17, 1942, to middle-class parents, Ali started boxing when he was 12 years old, winning Golden Gloves titles before heading to the 1960 Olympics in Rome, where he won a gold medal as a light heavyweight at the age of 18.
Ali turned professional shortly afterwards backed by Louisville businessmen, who guaranteed him a 50-50 split in earnings.
He was nicknamed the 'Louisville Lip', but backed up his talk with action, and relocated to Miami to train with the legendary trainer Angelo Dundee, and worked on to get a shot at the heavyweight title.
Acting out against racism in America, Ali threw his Olympic gold medal in a river after he was refused services at a soda fountain centre.
Muhammad Ali reverted to Islam in 1963 after recoiling from the close knit community of sports agents and promoters, but kept his new faith a secret until his crown was placed on his head.
The following year when heavyweight champion Sonny Liston agreed to fight Ali, the challenger geared up for the bout with a litany of insults and rhymes, including the still famous, "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."
Ali beat the fearsome Liston in a sixth-round technical knockout before a stunned Miami Beach crowd, and Ali went on to proclaim in the ring, "I am the greatest! I am the greatest! I'm the king of the world."
At the age of 22, Cassius Clay soon announced that he would be then onward known as Muhammad Ali, and Cassius Clay was his 'slave name'.
Ali went on to defend his prestigious title six times, including a rematch with Liston. Then, in 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War, the champion was drafted to serve in the U.S. Army.
The heavyweight champion risked it all when he opposed the Vietnam War, and chose his beliefs over his career, saying that he had "no quarrel" with America's enemy, the Vietcong. He refused to serve in the war.
His stand culminated with an appearance at an Army recruiting station, where he refused to step forward when his name was called. In an immensely harsh reaction, Ali was stripped of his boxing title, convicted of draft evasion and sentenced to five years in prison.
Released on appeal but unable to fight or leave the country, Ali spoke at college campuses, engaging in heated debates, talking about denying rights to blacks even as they were ordered to fight the country's battles abroad.
Four years after his appeal reached the US Supreme Court, Ali was issued a boxing license by Georgia, and Ali beat Jerry Quarry.
Six months later, Muhammad Ali suffered his first defeat as a pro, losing to Joe Frazier in the 'fight of the century', a 15 round duel.
Thus began sport's greatest rivalries. Ali and Frazier fought again in 1974, after Frazier had lost his crown, and Ali went on to win in a unanimous decision, making him the lead challenger for the heavyweight title.
The third fight in the Ali-Frazier trilogy followed in 1975, the "Thrilla in Manila" that is now regarded as one of the best boxing matches of all time. Ali won in a technical knockout in the 15th round.
Ali defended his title until 1978, when he was beaten by a young Leon Spinks, but was able to win it back.
In 1979 he retired, but returned in 1980, seeking to replenish his dwindling personal fortune, for a title match against Larry Holmes, which he lost.
Ali lost again the following year, to Trevor Berbick, and finally Ali retired for good. That year he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
The boxer's health began to suffer dramatically in the recent years. Last year he was rushed to the hospital after being found unresponsive.
He recovered and returned to his new home in Arizona, but in his last years, Ali was barely able to speak.
The boxer looked increasingly frail during public appearances over the past few years, including his last outing in April, at the Annual Celebrity Fight Night dinner which raises funds for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.
As news broke out of his death, tributes poured in for the World's Greatest Boxer, led by Mike Tyson and even Donald Trump, whose proposal to ban Muslims entering the United States, Muhammad Ali criticised in December by releasing a statement.
Other than his boxing accolades, Ali's greatest feat in life was when passing a high-rise building in 1981, he noticed a commotion; a man was threatening to commit suicide by jumping from the ninth floor.
Muhammad Ali asked the police officers if he could help and duly coaxed the troubled man down from the ledge.
The boxing great's distinctive footwork, popularly knows as the 'Ali shuffle', is rendered cleverly here using multiple exposures.