The Greatest, Muhammad Ali has passed at 74
He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life – Muhammad Ali
After battling with Parkinson’s disease for over 32 years, Muhammad Ali The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer has passed away at the age of 74.
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.
He turned professional shortly afterward, supported at first by Louisville business owners who guaranteed him an unprecedented 50-50 split in earnings. His knack for talking up his own talents, earned him the dismissive nickname the Louisville Lip, but he backed up his talk with action, relocating to Miami to train with the legendary trainer Angelo Dundee and build a case for getting a shot at the heavyweight title.
As his profile rose, Ali acted out against American racism. After he was refused services at a soda fountain counter, he said, he threw his Olympic gold medal into a river.
Ali burst into the national consciousness in the early 1960s, when as a young heavyweight champion he converted to Islam and refused to serve in the Vietnam War, and became an emblem of strength, eloquence, conscience and courage. Ali was an anti-establishment showman who transcended borders and barriers, race and religion. His fights against other men became spectacles, but he embodied much greater battles.
Recoiling from the sport’s tightly knit community of agents and promoters, Ali found guidance instead from the Nation of Islam, an American Muslim sect that advocated racial separation and rejected the pacifism of most civil rights activism. Inspired by Malcolm X, one of the group’s leaders, he converted in 1963. But he kept his new faith a secret until the crown was safely in hand.
That came 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 line, float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. He beat the fearsome Liston in a sixth-round technical knockout before a stunned Miami Beach crowd. In the ring, Ali proclaimed, I am the greatest! I am the greatest! I’m the king of the world.
Ali is survived by his lovely wife Yolanda Williams and his 9 children , Laila Ali, Hana Ali, Asaad Amin, Khaliah Ali, Muhammad Ali Jr., Rasheda Ali, Jamillah Ali, Miya Ali, Maryum Ali
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