Boxers are not supposed to be charming; he was a natural pro at it. Boxers are not supposed to make you smile; he had us all guffawing out loud. Boxers are not supposed to be civil rights champions; he fought his greatest battles outside the ring. Boxers are not exactly supposed to be good-looking; he was definitely handsome. Muhammad Ali broke all traditional stereotypes, becoming the stuff of legends even when he was alive; now that he has lost his last bout against Parkinson’s disease, there’s no doubt this paradox of a man was the greatest fighter – and being Ali, he would be the first person to agree, and to accept the standing ovation the world is giving him.
World boxing champion thrice over, and winner of 56 bouts out of a total 61, Muhammad Ali died today at age 74, after being admitted to hospital with respiratory problems complicated by Parkinson’s Disease.
Referred to as the most popular sports personality across the globe, Muhammad Ali shot to fame not only for his boxing prowess but also for being a born entertainer. Even generations who never saw him fight know the phrase he coined, that he ‘floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee’. The boxing great continued to make appearances even after retiring, simply because the public loved seeing him. Ali was the proud bearer of the Olympic flag at the 2012 London Games.
Ali stood up for what he believed in, and even his rivals believed in him, as did the generation of boxers who followed in his footsteps. Mike Tyson paid tribute to his hero saying, “God came for his champion.”
Once asked how he would like to be remembered, Ali said, “As a man who never sold out his people, but if that’s too much, then just as a good boxer. I wouldn’t even mind if you don’t mention how pretty I was.”
You were the best, Muhammad Ali – the world’s going to remember that for a long time!