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Saturday, June 04, 2016

Muhammad Ali, boxing great and cultural symbol, dead at age 74

Sat Jun 4, 2016 | 2:56 AM EDT Muhammad Ali, boxing great and cultural symbol, dead at age 74 ‹ Muhammad Ali, along with his wife Lonnie, react to a story told by actor Kevin Costner at the Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night awards banquet in Phoenix, April 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Topping Muhammad Ali, along with his wife Lonnie, react to a story told by actor Kevin Costner at the Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night awards banquet in Phoeni... Reuters/Jeff Topping + Muhammad Ali poses with his boxing gloves. Action Images/Sporting Pictures Muhammad Ali poses with his boxing gloves. Action Images/Sporting Pictures Muhammad Ali cuddling his daughters Laila, (L)and Hana at a hotel in London, December 1978. Action Images/MSI Muhammad Ali cuddling his daughters Laila, (L)and Hana at a hotel in London, December 1978. Action Images/MSI Muhammad Ali with his trainer Angelo Dundee ahead of his fight with Ernie Terrell at the Astrodome, Houston, February 1967. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali with his trainer Angelo Dundee ahead of his fight with Ernie Terrell at the Astrodome, Houston, February 1967. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali, World Heavyweight Champion and challenger, Henry Cooper fight at Highbury Stadium, London, for the World Heavyweight Boxing title, May 1966. The fight was stopped in the sixth round due to cut above Cooper's left eye.Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali, World Heavyweight Champion and challenger, Henry Cooper fight at Highbury Stadium, London, for the World Heavyweight Boxing title, May 196... + Muhammad Ali training at his Pennsylvanian mountain retreat for his fight against George Foreman in Zaire, August 1974.Action Images/MSI Muhammad Ali training at his Pennsylvanian mountain retreat for his fight against George Foreman in Zaire, August 1974.Action Images/MSI Muhammad Ali's second match with Leon Spinks, at the Louisiana Superdome, September 1978, went badly for Spinks. A now in shape Ali rarely lost control, winning back his title by a unanimous fifteen-round decision. Ali regained the title, becoming the first three-time heavyweight champion. Action Images/MSI Muhammad Ali's second match with Leon Spinks, at the Louisiana Superdome, September 1978, went badly for Spinks. A now in shape Ali rarely lost control, ... + Joe Frazier lands a left hook on Muhammad Ali during the first of their three epic battles at Madison Square Garden in New York, March 1971.Action Images / MSI/File Photo Joe Frazier lands a left hook on Muhammad Ali during the first of their three epic battles at Madison Square Garden in New York, March 1971.Action Images... + Muhammad Ali predicts that he will in the fifth round before his fight with Henry Cooper at Wembley Stadium in London, June 1963. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali predicts that he will in the fifth round before his fight with Henry Cooper at Wembley Stadium in London, June 1963. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali reads the newspapers in London the day after his World Title Fight win against Henry Cooper, June 1963. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali reads the newspapers in London the day after his World Title Fight win against Henry Cooper, June 1963. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali and his entourage try to wind up Ken Norton ahead of their third fight in New York, September 1976. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali and his entourage try to wind up Ken Norton ahead of their third fight in New York, September 1976. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali trains for his second fight with Leon Spinks in New Orleans, August 1978, Ali managed to win back the Heavyweight title for a third and final time. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali trains for his second fight with Leon Spinks in New Orleans, August 1978, Ali managed to win back the Heavyweight title for a third and fina... + Muhammad Ali fights Ken Norton at Yankee Stadium in the third fight between the two heavyweights in New York City, September 1976.Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali fights Ken Norton at Yankee Stadium in the third fight between the two heavyweights in New York City, September 1976.Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali drops an overhand right on Leon Spinks during their second match at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, September 1978. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali drops an overhand right on Leon Spinks during their second match at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, September 1978. Action Images... + Muhammad Ali poses during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland January 2006. REUTERS/Andreas Meier Muhammad Ali poses during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland January 2006. Reuters/Andreas Meier A smiling Muhammad Ali shows his fist to reporters during an impromptu press conference in Mexico City, July 1987. REUTERS/Jorge Nunez A smiling Muhammad Ali shows his fist to reporters during an impromptu press conference in Mexico City, July 1987. Reuters/Jorge Nunez Muhammad Ali waves to the crowd during the opening ceremony of the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, September 2010. REUTERS/John Sommers II Muhammad Ali waves to the crowd during the opening ceremony of the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, September 2010. Reuters/John Sommers II Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie arrive at a hotel in Berlin, December 2005. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie arrive at a hotel in Berlin, December 2005. Reuters/Tobias Schwarz Muhammad Ali accepts the President's Award accompanied by his wife Yolanda Williams at the 40th Annual NAACP Image Awards at the Shrine auditorium in Los Angeles February 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni Muhammad Ali accepts the President's Award accompanied by his wife Yolanda Williams at the 40th Annual NAACP Image Awards at the Shrine auditorium in Los... Reuters/Mario Anzuoni + Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie attend a Ryder Cup reception at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, September 2008. REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie attend a Ryder Cup reception at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, September 2008. Reuters/ Eddie Keogh Muhammad Ali is assisted as he enters the funeral for boxer Joe Frazier at the Enon Tabernacle Baptist church in Philadelphia, November 2011 REUTERS/Tim Shaffer Muhammad Ali is assisted as he enters the funeral for boxer Joe Frazier at the Enon Tabernacle Baptist church in Philadelphia, November 2011 Reuters/Tim Shaffer Muhammad Ali is given the Courage Award by singer Whitney Houston at the GQ Men of the Year awards show, October 1998. REUTERS/Jeff Christensen Muhammad Ali is given the Courage Award by singer Whitney Houston at the GQ Men of the Year awards show, October 1998. Reuters/Jeff Christensen Muhammad Ali takes part in pre-game ceremonies before the Florida Gators play against the Louisville Cardinals in the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl NCAA football game in New Orleans, January 2013. REUTERS/Bill Haber/Pool Muhammad Ali takes part in pre-game ceremonies before the Florida Gators play against the Louisville Cardinals in the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl NCAA footb... Reuters/Bill Haber/Pool + Muhammad Ali stands with his wife Yolanda as he is introduced before the welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, May 2010. REUTERS/Steve Marcus Muhammad Ali stands with his wife Yolanda as he is introduced before the welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley at the MGM Gra... Reuters/Steve Marcus + Muhammad Ali sits in a wheelchair as he is taken to a photo session with attendees of the 50th Convention of the World Boxing Council in Cancun, December 2012. REUTERS/Victor Ruiz Garcia Muhammad Ali sits in a wheelchair as he is taken to a photo session with attendees of the 50th Convention of the World Boxing Council in Cancun, December... Reuters/Victor Ruiz Garcia + Muhammad Ali watches during the first quarter of the NBA All-Star basketball game in Phoenix, February 2009. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri Muhammad Ali watches during the first quarter of the NBA All-Star basketball game in Phoenix, February 2009. Reuters/Rick Scuteri Muhammad Ali is seen with the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic stadium, July 2012. REUTERS/Max Rossi Muhammad Ali is seen with the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic stadium, July 2012. Reuters/Max Rossi Muhammad Ali sits with his wife, Yolanda, as they await the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, in Washington, January 2009. REUTERS/Jim Young Muhammad Ali sits with his wife, Yolanda, as they await the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, in Washingt... Reuters/Jim Young + Muhammad Ali, along with his wife Lonnie, react to a story told by actor Kevin Costner at the Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night awards banquet in Phoenix, April 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Topping Muhammad Ali, along with his wife Lonnie, react to a story told by actor Kevin Costner at the Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night awards banquet in Phoeni... Reuters/Jeff Topping + Muhammad Ali poses with his boxing gloves. Action Images/Sporting Pictures Muhammad Ali poses with his boxing gloves. Action Images/Sporting Pictures › Muhammad Ali, boxing great and cultural symbol,...X By Bill Trott (Reuters) - Former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, whose record-setting boxing career, unprecedented flair for showmanship, and controversial stands made him one of the best-known figures of the 20th century, died on Friday aged 74. Ali's death was confirmed in a statement issued by family spokesman Bob Gunnell late Friday evening, a day after he was admitted to a Phoenix-area hospital with a respiratory ailment. The cause of death or the name of the hospital where he died were not immediately disclosed. Ali had long suffered from Parkinson's syndrome, which impaired his speech and made the once-graceful athlete almost a prisoner in his own body. Even so, Ali's youthful proclamation of himself as "the greatest" rang true until the end for the millions of people worldwide who admired him for his courage both inside and outside the ring. "A part of me slipped away, the greatest piece," George Foreman, a former heavyweight boxer and one of Ali's most formidable opponents in the ring, said on Twitter after the news of Ali's death. Roy Jones Jr., a former champion boxer who grew up during Ali's prime, also said in a Tweet: "My heart is deeply saddened yet both appreciative and relieved that the greatest is now resting in the greatest place." Few could argue with his athletic prowess at his peak in the 1960s. With his dancing feet and quick fists, he could - as he put it - float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. He was the first person to win the heavyweight championship three times. ADVERTISEMENT But Ali became much more than a colorful and interesting athlete. He spoke boldly against racism in the '60s, as well as the Vietnam War. During and after his championship reign, Ali met scores of world leaders and for a time he was considered the most recognizable person on earth, known even in remote villages far from the United States. Ali's diagnosis of Parkinson's came about three years after he retired from boxing in 1981. His influence extended far beyond boxing. He became the unofficial spokesman for millions of blacks and oppressed people around the world because of his refusal to compromise his opinions and stand up to white authorities. In a realm where athletes often battle inarticulateness as well as their opponents, Ali was known as the Louisville Lip and loved to talk, especially about himself. "Humble people, I've found, don't get very far," he once told a reporter. His taunts could be brutal. "Joe Frazier is so ugly that when he cries, the tears turn around and go down the back of his head," he once said. He also dubbed Frazier a 'gorilla' but later apologized and said it was all to promote the fight. Related Coverage Muhammad Ali: 'Greatest' boxer, showman, ambassador Key fights in the boxing career of Muhammad Ali Muhammad Ali, in his own words Eight facts about former boxing champ Muhammad Ali Once asked about his preferred legacy, Ali said: "I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times, who was humorous and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him ... who stood up for his beliefs ... who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love. "And if all that's too much, then I guess I'd settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people. And I wouldn't even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was." Ali was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on Jan. 17, 1942, as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., a name shared with a 19th century slavery abolitionist. He changed his name after his conversion to Islam. Ali is survived by his wife, the former Lonnie Williams, who knew him when she was a child in Louisville, along with his nine children. (Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Frances Kerry, Diane Craft and Paul Tait)

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