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Muhammad Ali, The Greatest has passed in Arizona. He was 74.

Name a boxer on the planet Earth breathing today, he knows of Muhammad Ali. Name any man of bombast who proclaimed himself king with the confidence of one when the world saw him as a pauper. He knew of Muhammad Ali. He knew of a civil rights figure, an icon in the sport of boxing, a humanitarian and a kid who rose from modest beginnings in Louisville, KY to become the greatest boxer who ever lived.

Muhammad Ali died late Friday night in a Phoenix area hospital. He was 74.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay on January 19, 1942, Ali would go on to win gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics. He would turn pro months later, beginning a string of bouts where his mouth would sell the tickets and people would pay big, hoping he’d lose. He’d be proclaimed the Louisville Lip for his constant boasting of his own greatness and predictions of knockouts. In the mid 1960s, no sports figure rose to a higher power than Ali who in 1964 defeated Sonny Liston for the Heavyweight crown. He would soon declare himself a member of the Nation of Islam, adopting the name given to him by The Honorable Elijah Muhammad in the process – Muhammad Ali.

Ali in the ’60s consistently discouraged participating in the Vietnam War, famously telling reporters, “Ain’t no VietCong ever called me nigger.” As he defied the US government, the government fought back, imprisoning Ali for three years and stripping him of the Heavyweight title. He would earn reinstatement in 1970 and in 1971 began a series of bouts with Joe Frazier, often dubbed the greatest trilogy in the history of the Heavyweight division. He would regain the Heavyweight crown in 1974 with an upset victory of George Foreman in Zaire.

Ali would finish his career with 56 wins and only 5 losses in the ring, most of those coming in the twilight of his career. As his health waned, he developed Parkinson’s Disease but still remained a patriarch to not just the sport of boxing but to African-Americans and Muslims across the globe. Dubbed the Muslim Champion when he first controlled the crown of Heavyweight, Ali was outspoken about race relations in the United States, working more towards being a symbol of peace and opportunity as he converted to become a Sunni Muslim.

He is survived by his wife Lonnie Ali, his son Muhammad Ali, Jr. and his daughters, Laila, Maryum, Jamillah, Rasheda, and Hana.

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