Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali Dies Aged 74
The three-time heavyweight champion, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the 1980s, passed away in Arizona surrounded by family.
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali has died at the age of 74, a spokesman for his family has confirmed.
The three-time world heavyweight champion was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984 – three years after he retired from the sport.
In the days before his death, Ali had been admitted to hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, suffering from respiratory issues.
Reports had suggested his breathing problems had been complicated by the neurological disorder, which had long impaired his speech.
Spokesman Bob Gunnell said Ali’s funeral will take place in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, on Wednesday.
“The Ali family would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers, and support and asks for privacy at this time,” his statement added.
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 Maloney 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 fought for what he believed in and he stood up for it.”
News of his death first emerged following a baseball game in Florida, when the Miami Marlins displayed a tribute to Ali on video screens around the stadium.
The team’s president, David Samson, claimed he was told of Ali’s passing by someone close to the family – but said he was unaware that the news had not been officially announced.
Ali had a personal connection to the club, and threw the first pitch at their new ballpark when it opened in 2012.
Born in January 1942 as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr, a name shared with a 19th century slavery abolitionist, the boxer changed his name to Muhammad Ali after his conversion to Islam.
Although he had shied away from public life in recent years, Ali spoke out against Donald Trump’s calls for Muslims to be banned from entering the United States.
Back in December, he urged people to “stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda”, adding: “True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion”.
One of the boxing legend’s final public appearances was in April, when he attended a Celebrity Fight Night to benefit a Parkinson’s treatment facility in his name.
Ali is survived by his fourth wife Lonnie, along with his nine children.
Many of his loved ones reportedly flew to Arizona to be by his bedside following his admission to hospital on Thursday.