Muhammad Ali, ‘The Greatest of All Time’, Passed Away
Born as his real birth name Cassius Marcellus Clay on Jan. 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, to his middle-class parents, Ali started to learn boxing when he was 12 years old, winning Golden Gloves titles before heading to the 1960th Olympics in Rome, Italy, where he won a gold medal in a light heavyweight division. The new champion soon renounced Cassius Clay as his “slave name” and said he would be known from then on as his new name Muhammad Ali — bestowed by Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad when he was 22 years old.
Ali’s death statement was confirmed by his family spokesman Bob Gunnell late Friday of June 3rd, evening, a day after he was admitted to one of the hospitals in Phoenix, AZ with respiratory issues.
The cause of death or the name of the hospital where he died were not immediately disclosed. He had spent the past few days at Phoenix hospital while being treated for his respiratory complications.
Ali had suffered for three decades from Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological condition of the brain that affects the muscle movement, a disease that slowly degenerate his well-being, his legendary silver tongue, and his physical dexterity as a great boxer. A funeral service is planned in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
Even so, Ali’s self-proclamation of himself as “the greatest of all time” which made possible until the end for the millions of people and fans worldwide who admired him for his courage both inside and outside the boxing ring.
“A part of me slipped away, the greatest piece,” George Foreman, a former heavyweight boxer and one of Muhammad Ali’s most formidable opponents in the world of boxing, said on Twitter after the news of Ali’s death announced in public.
Roy Jones Jr., a former boxer champion who grew up during the day of 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 1960’s. Ali’s became famous and known as the greatest boxing fighter of all time with his quick fists and dancing feet , he could – as he put it – float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. He was the very first person to win the heavyweight championship division almost three times in the history of boxing.
But Ali became much more than a colorful and interesting famous athlete. He spoke boldly against the issue of racism in the ’60s, as well as during the Vietnam War.
During and after his championship reign, Ali met several world leaders and for a time, he was considered the most recognizable public figure on earth, known even in remote places far from the United States and different countries worldwide. Athletes and boxers recognized him as the best boxing fighter in the world of sports.
Battle with Parkinson’s Disease
Ali’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease came about three years after he retired from boxing in 1981.
His influence in public extended far beyond boxing which he became the unofficial spokesman for millions of blacks and oppressed people around the world because of his withholding to compromise his opinions and stand up to white authorities.
Athletes often battle inarticulateness as well as their matching opponents, Muhammad Ali was known as the Louisville Lip, silver-tongue and loved to talk, especially about himself.
Once asked about his preferred legacy, Muhammad Ali said: “I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title division 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.”
“Humble people, I’ve found, don’t get very far,” he once told a reporter. 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.