Muhammad Ali wasn’t just the world’s greatest boxer.
He was a humanitarian.
A Civil Rights activist.
He was a hero to many.
After over 30 years battling Parkinson’s Disease, our silver-tongued boxing hero, Cassius Clay AKA Muhammad Ali, has died at the age of 74. A family spokesman confirmed to NBC News that Ali spent his last few days in an undisclosed hospital, where he reportedly had respiratory complications.
Ali had suffered for three decades from Parkinson’s, a progressive neurological condition that slowly robbed him of both his legendary verbal grace and his physical dexterity. A funeral service is planned in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
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.”
Even as his health declined, Ali did not shy from politics or controversy, releasing a statement in December criticizing 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.
The self-proclaimed ‘Greatest of all time” that used to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, was surely in a league of his own. As a heavyweight champion, Ali’s fancy footwork along with his boxing skills attracted many fans of all races, breaking barriers at a time when racial tension was at a high Outside of the ring, he spent his time as a loving husband and father and fighting for equality as a Civil Rights activist. Ali embodied courage not only in the ring; the legend converted to Islam when he refused to serve in the Vietnam War.
Via NBC News:
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 — often in verse — 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.
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.
The new champion soon renounced Cassius Clay as his “slave name” and said he would be known from then on as Muhammad Ali — bestowed by Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad. He was 22 years old.
Rest in Paradise, Mr Ali.
LN sends condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time. Mr. Ali will surely be missed.