The world heavyweight boxing legend and civil rights champion, Mohammed Ali is dead. The brash young man was said to have died on Friday in a hospital located at the US city of Phoenix, Arizona after being admitted the previous day.
The record-setting heavyweight champion who calls himself “The Greatest” had for over three decades, suffered from a respiratory illness, a condition that was complicated by Parkinson’s disease.
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 and continued so until his ill health slowly robbed him of both his legendary verbal grace and his physical dexterity.
“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,” Bob Gunnell, a family spokesman said.
Prior to his death, Mohammed Ali was known as one of the most famous and beloved athletes on the planet. He was more than a colourful and interesting athlete who spoke boldly against racism in the 1960s, as well as the Vietnam War.
Mohammed Ali spoke out for African-American civil rights in the 1960s, carrying on his fight against injustice and sacrificing the prime years of his own career in the process.
Even as his health declined, Ali still had interest in politics. In December, he was said to have released a statement criticizing the US Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. “We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda,” he said.
Speaking of his death, his daughter Rasheda said early Saturday that the legend was “no longer suffering,” describing him as “daddy, my best friend and hero” as well as “the greatest man that ever lived.”
Hours before her father passed on, one of his daughters, Laila Ali posted a throwback photo of Muhammad Ali with her daughter, Sydney, who was born in 2011.
The family sends their sincere gratitude to as many who have been supportive in every way as they prepare for his funeral service in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.