As the world mourns the death of the self-proclaimed “Greatest of All Time,” Muhammad Ali, we learn that in addition to his swiftness and agility in the ring, magnificent boxing style and unpredictable wit, the 74-year-old boxer was recognized for much more than being a giant in the sports world and in pop-culture.
Ali was an advocate for the fight against Parkinson’s disease, a disease in which he suffered from. He was a supporter of UNICEF and the Olympics and many other charitable organizations.
According to Vice President Joe Biden on Twitter, “Ali fought for the basic belief that everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity.”
In 1967, the boxing champion refused to fight in the U.S government after being drafted because of the continuing racial inequality in the United States. He refused to fight for other’s freedom across the globe because his own people here in the U.S. were denied rights.
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10, 000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so called Negro People in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights,” Ali said.
He was later convicted of draft evasion and stripped of his heavyweight title he won from Sonny Liston in 1964. However, he gained the title of a hero!
That’s why so many will never forget the lost legend. Many took to Twitter to recognize a life well lived.
The boxing legend and three-time heavy weight champion was hospitalized last Monday with a respiratory illness. It soon became clear that he would not recover this time.
He passed away on Friday and the cause of his death was Septic shock. Medical Contributor Dr. Natalie Azar said the likely culprit was pneumonia, which like any infection, can progress to Sepsis.
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky, Ali stepped in the ring for the first time at 12-years-old and went on to be one of the most successful athletes in history.
He signed his first contract after taking home an Olympic gold metal in 1960 and won his first pro fight against Tunney Hunsaker. He quickly became known for his witty and boastful statements.
Before fighting his next component, Sonny Liston, he promised fans he would, “float like an butterfly and sting like a bee,” which became a popular phrase of his. He beat Liston in seven rounds in Miami and won his first heavyweight title.
Another famous fight was against Joe Frazier in a 15-round bout, which Frazier was declared the winner. Ali came back and beat him and then defeated George Foreman knocking him out in the eighth round and reclaiming the world heavyweight title.
Ali also lost and reclaimed his title against Leon Spinks in 1978 with a record of 56 wins (37 by knock outs.)
Ali struggled to communicate in the final year of his life, according to one of his ex-wives, Veronica Porsche, and the mother of his two daughters Laila and Hana, due to his lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was diagnosed with in 1984, three years after retiring.
Shortly after, the fighter began to develop problems with his motor skills and ability to speak coherently.
While many assumed that Ali’s slurred speech was due to absorbing too many blows in the ring, wife Lonnie Ali, said that his doctors told her that the disease was a genetic condition.
Ali was born a fighter and left the earth with the same tenacity. His mom said at 18- months-old, Ali was strong and muscular. Waving his arms as babies do, he knocked her tooth out. And even in the end, Ali remained a fighter. Hana Ali, one of his daughters, wrote on Twitter that even though all of his organs had failed at the end, “his heart would not stop beating.”
“For 30 minutes, his heart just kept beating. No one had ever seen anything like it,” she said. “It was a true testament to his spirit and will.”
EGL sends our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Muhammad Ali. Legends live forever.
Written By: Taylor Bennett