Former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, whose remarkable, record-setting boxing career and political stands inspired generations and continues to do so, died yesterday, June 3rd, at the age of 74, at a hospital in the US city of Phoenix, Arizona, reports Reuters.
Ali had been suffering from Parkinson’s syndrome for many years, a disease which caused him speech impairment and practically made him a prisoner in his own body. On Thursday, he was admitted to the hospital in Phoenix with a respiratory ailment and died just a day later.
He is known for being a ferocious fighter both inside and outside the ring, for speaking out against racism, war and religious intolerance and thus, becoming a model for the African-American at the hight of the civil rights era. In turn, he was inspired by the African-American leader Malcolm X, a radical and courageous advocate for the rights of blacks in the United States and one of the most influential African-Americans in history.
Shortly after winning the world heavyweight championship in 1964 from Sonny Liston, he joined, like Malcolm X, the African-American Islamic religious movement “Nation of Islam” and changed his original name Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. to Muhammad Ali.
Once asked about his preferred legacy, Reuters reports, Ali said: “I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times, who was humorous and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him … who stood up for his beliefs … who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love. And if all that’s too much, then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people. And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was.”