“The Greatest” Muhammad Ali Has Passed

(AllHipHop News) Muhammad Ali has died. He was 74.

A family spokesman broke the news that the “The Greatest” died on Friday.

Ali was a heavyweight boxing champion, a philanthropist, Civil Rights activist and one of the most famous people on Earth. He died in Phoenix, Arizona after he was rushed to the hospital for a respiratory illness. Ali suffered from Parkinson’s disease, an ailment that he lived with since 1984. He was put on life support prior to his death.

The funeral will be conducted in Louisville, Kentucky, Ali’s hometown. He is survived by nine children and his wife Lonnie.

The world mourns.

“God came for his champion. So long great one,” former champ Mike Tyson said on Twitter.

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky in 1942. He began training to fight at the age of 12 after a thief stole his bicycle. He went on to win six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles and two national Golden Gloves titles among a haul of early accolades. He picked up gold at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Clay’s amateur record was 100 wins with five losses. He first became the world heavyweight champion in 1964, after he beat Sonny Liston in one of the greatest upsets in the sport. He changed his name to Muhammad Ali after joining the Nation of Islam months later.

In 1967, Ali transcended the sport when he refused to be drafted into the U.S. military, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. He was arrested and stripped of his boxing title. He did not fight again for almost four years, until his conviction was overturned in 1971.

Soon, he became recognized as the most famous sportsman of his generation and the finest fighter to ever step into a boxing ring. His greatest fights as champion included clashes with Joe Frazier and George Foreman.

He briefly quit the sport in 1976 to focus on his faith, having converted to Sunni Islam, and upon his return his doctor, Ferdie Pacheco, advised him to quit due to internal injuries from boxing. Ali refused and his longtime medic retired.

He lost his title in 1978 to Leon Spinks in Las Vegas in part because he wasn’t physically prepared for the fight, looking seriously out of shape. Spinks was declared the winner by split decision. Ali was better prepared for the rematch in New Orleans, winning by unanimous decision. The win made him the first heavyweight champion to win the belt three times.

Ali announced his retirement from boxing in July, 1979, but came back for one more fight against Larry Holmes for the WBC belt for an unprecedented fourth time. Reporters started noting the sports legend was struggling with his speech and trembling uncontrollably at times, but Ali was given the OK to fight by medics at the Mayo Clinic and his return to the ring went ahead in October, 1980.

Holmes dominated the fight, which his trainer Angelo Dundee stopped in the 11th round. He fought one last time, in December, 1981, against Trevor Berbick, losing a 10-round decision.

Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome, a disease that commonly results from head trauma from activities such as boxing, in 1984.

He remained a hero to the masses and was honored by several presidents. After his boxing career was over, his life highlights included a trip to Iraq to meet with leader Saddam Hussein to negotiate the release of American hostages, and he had the honor of lighting the flame at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996. He also flew to Afghanistan in 2002 as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

He was married four times and had seven daughters and two sons. He lived out his days in Scottsdale, Arizona, with his wife Lonnie Williams, who he married in 1986.

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