‘The Greatest’, Muhammad Ali, Has Died Aged 74

By : Joseph Loftus |


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Muhammad Ali, one of the best, if not the greatest boxer of all time, has died aged 74.

The former three-time world heavyweight boxing champion, and without doubt one of the world’s best-known sporting heroes, died at a hospital in the US city of Phoenix, Arizona.

He was admitted to hospital with breathing complications on Thursday, reports the BBC. His condition is thought to have been worsened by Parkinson’s disease, which he had bravely battled for many years.

Ali’s funeral is planned to take place in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, his family said in a statement.

Our thoughts are with them.

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Born in 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, Cassius Clay, as he was originally known, probably wouldn’t have taken up boxing, but when he was 12-years-old an older boy stole his bicycle to which Clay responded, ‘I’m gonna whoop him’, driving him to get involved in the art of boxing.

He went onto claim light-heavyweight gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics before beating Sonny Liston in ’64, a fight which the majority of boxing pundits and fans thought would go drastically the other way. Ali here claimed his first, of three, world titles and earned the nickname ‘The Greatest’.

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Ali was the greatest not only because of his impeccable boxing record, but because of the boxers who were on his record, boxers he was able to systematically destroy.

Boxers such as Sonny Liston, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Earnie Shavers, and Jerry Quarry.

In the golden era of boxing, an era which will likely never be defeated in terms of the quality and prowess of countless boxers at the time, Ali was able to make boxing look so easy.

I, personally, am always fascinated when I glare back at Ali’s bouts against Foreman, Frazier, Liston, and Quarry, and watch as Ali almost jogs, or dances, or ‘floats’, as he would say, around the ring for a full 15 rounds – evading punches, thrown from the fists of some of the hardest and most athletic boxers to have walked the earth, as if they weren’t even there.

Ali suffered his first professional defeat by Joe Frazier in a bout dubbed the ‘Fight of the Century’ in New York on 8 March 1971, but it didn’t take long for Ali to get back in the ring, regaining his title with an eighth-round knockout of George Foreman in the infamous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) on 30 October 1974.

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Ali absorbed every punch of Foreman’s, a fighter renowned for his crippling punching power, until Foreman simple couldn’t throw anything else – then Ali pounced and floored Foreman.

Ali fought Frazier for a third and final time in the ‘Thrilla in Manila’ on 1 October 1975 and succeeded when Frazier retired, refusing to get back in the ring for the 15th and final round.

Ali also revolutionised boxing into what we know it as today. He brought politics, religion, and race all into the ring and the interview rooms with him – changing his name from Cassius Clay to Cassius X, and then Muhammad Ali after converting to Islam and befriending the controversial Nation of Islam.

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Ali also brought trash-talking into the limelight, a tactic that was very rarely used beforehand, and a tactic which he hilariously flourished in.

Ali was also a civil rights campaigner and poet who transcended the bounds of sport, race and nationality.

Ali’s career came to an end after he was defeated by both Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick in the early ’80s.

Ultimately ‘The Greatest’ fought a total of 61 times as a professional, winning 56, 37 of which by knockout, and only losing five times.

Soon after retiring, rumours began to circulate about the state of Ali’s health and eventually Parkinson’s disease was diagnosed with Ali’s health steadily deteriorating for numerous years.

He was admitted to hospital in the U.S. city of Phoenix, Arizona on Thursday where he later died aged 74.

When Ali was asked how he would like to be remembered, he once said:

As a man who never sold out his people. But if that’s too much, then just a good boxer. I won’t even mind if you don’t mention how pretty I was.

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One thing is for certain – Muhammad Ali will never be forgotten.

Rest in peace.