Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali has passed aged 74, he had been hospitalised for a respiratory issue.
The 74-year-old former heavyweight world champion was in a “fair condition” on Thursday when he was admitted hospital, but his situation deteriorate rapidly.
He was suffering from a respiratory illness, a condition that was complicated by Parkinson’s disease.
Muhammad Ali proclaimed himself “The Greatest” and then spent a lifetime living up to the billing.
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.
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.
Muhammad Ali, the heavyweight boxing champion whose brash yet playful public persona, innovative fighting style and outspoken political stances made him one of the most widely recognized and admired Americans in the world.
“After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74,” family spokesman Bob Gunell said.
“The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died this evening. Muhammad Ali’s funeral will take place in his hometown of Louisville, KY. The Ali family would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and support and asks for privacy at this time.”
Boxing manager Frank Warren told Sky News: “The world has lost an iconic figure. As a boxer, he was one of the greatest of all time.
“Not only that, but he crossed over into the mainstream and became bigger than sport. He was probably one of the most recognised people on the planet.
“Muhammad Ali probably paved the way for Barack Obama becoming President of the United States. He changed the whole concept of being black in America.”
Promoter Kellie Malone added: “Muhammad Ali was a man that stood up for his principles. He took on the American government and he helped the black community in America.
“He believed in certain things and he thought for what he believed in and he stood up for it.”
Ali is survived by his fourth wife, Lonnie, who he married in 1986, and nine children: seven daughters and two sons. His youngest daughter, Laila, born in 1977, became a professional boxer, and retired undefeated in 2007.
Muhammad Ali was a game changer, he transformed the sport of boxing. There will never be another one like him!
He will be remebered for the greatest sportsman to grace earth.
R.I.P Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)