Boxing legend and one of sport’s greatest icons, Muhammad Ali, has died at the age of 74. The self-proclaimed ‘Greatest’ – a claim agreed upon by countless millions – passed away on the evening of Friday June 3rd.
Family spokesman Bob Gunnell stated: “After a 32 year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali at the age of 74. The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died this evening.”
The boxer was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984.
Ali won Olympic gold in boxing for the US in 1960 before transitioning to a career as a pro. From there he went on to win numerous championships, including the WBC, WBA and NABF heavyweight titles, over a pro boxing career spanning 21 years. He retired with a record of 56-5, having defeated fellow legends including George Foreman, Joe Frazier and Sonny Liston.
Ali, born Cassius Clay, was the first star of combat sports who used his mouth to sell his fights outside the ring – using trash talk and entertaining speeches to promote himself and get inside the heads of his opponents. His influence can be seen throughout combat sports today, including MMA, with the likes of Conor McGregor and Chael Sonnen having used their verbal ability to turn themselves into some of the biggest stars in the game.
As well as being a sporting icon and huge influence in the fighting world, Ali was also a strong political and cultural figure, particularly in the African-American community, and actively spoke out against racial injustice. He famously refused to be drafted for the US military during the Vietnam war, which resulted in his suspension from the sport of boxing between 1967 and 1970.
With the passing of perhaps the most influential professional fighter of all time, members of the MMA and boxing communities have been pouring out words of tribute and support via social media.
Rest in peace to my biggest inspiration pic.twitter.com/gqIuuxSpC1
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) June 4, 2016
— Mike Tyson (@MikeTyson) June 4, 2016
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) June 4, 2016
— Dana White (@danawhite) June 4, 2016