Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, “The Greatest,” has died in a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona on June 4, reports said. He was 74.
“After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74. The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died this evening,” according to a statement released by Bob Gunnell, family spokesman.
“The Ali family would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers, and support and asks for privacy at this time,” Gunnell added.
A funeral service will take place in his hometown of Louiseville, Kentucky.
It had been reported that family members of Ali had already gathered in his bedside in a hospital due to respiratory problems. Doctors described the condition of Ali “in grave condition.”
Ali, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in real life, was brought to the hospital on June 2. That time, doctors said Ali’s condition was fair, it was reported.
The boxing legend started showing signs of Parkinson’s disease shortly after he retired from boxing in 1981.
Ali was diagnosed with the disease in 1984 at the age of 42.
Doctors said that there was a possibility that his Parkinson’s disease may be the result of repeated blows to the head during boxing matches.
Born to middle class parents on Jan. 17, 1942, Ali started boxing when he was 12. Ali rose to fame when he won the Light Heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy.
Reports said that Ali threw the medal into the Ohio River after he and a friend were denied service at a whites-only restaurant,
Despite his health, Ali was an active humanitarian and traveled to combat zones as peace ambassadors.
Ali was given the honor of lighting the Olympic torch at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. In 2005, the boxing champ was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
One of Ali’s memorable fights was his match with Joe Frazier known as “Thrilla In Manila” for the heavyweight championship of the world held at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City last October 1, 1975. Ali won by technical knockout.
The “Thrilla in Manila” fight ranks as one of the best in sports history.
In his honor, the country’s first multi-level commercial mall known as Ali Mall was built following his victory. It still stands at the Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City.
Ali had earlier slammed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump who proposed Muslims to be banned from entering the US.
“We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda,” said Ali, who turned to Suni Islam in 1975.
Ali married three times and had nine children. His daughter, Laila, also became a boxer in her own right.