Entertainment June 07, 2016 at 01:30 pm

Muhammad Ali: A Champion In and Out of the Ring

Fredrick Ngugi | Contributor

Fredrick Ngugi June 07, 2016 at 01:30 pm

June 07, 2016 at 01:30 pm | Entertainment

Four days after his death, tributes are still pouring in for the undisputed world’s boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who died on Friday at the age of 74. The three-time world heavyweight champion is celebrated for his unrivaled boxing prowess and public revelry.

Leading up to his demise, the charismatic boxer had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease – a chronic disorder of the nervous system – which had kept him away from the spotlight, only making occasional public appearances.

His last public appearance was at a Parkinson’s fundraiser on April 9 in Phoenix, where he received a standing ovation.

Ali the Champion

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, Muhammad Ali revealed his ability to fight at an early age. It’s usually said that Ali wanted to learn to fight so that he could beat up a thief who had stolen his bike.

At the age of 12, Ali enrolled for professional boxing lessons and went on to win his first heavyweight world championship title at 22.

Ali also participated in several other historic boxing matches including the Fight of the Century, Thrilla in Manila, Super Fight II, and the Rumble in the Jungle.

In total, Ali participated in 61 fights, winning 56 and losing five. Of the 56 wins, 36 were knock outs. The boxing icon retired from boxing in 1981.

He still is the only three-time world heavyweight champion, making him the world’s greatest boxer.

Controversial Ali

At age 22, the newly crowned world heavyweight champion converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. As part of the Nation of Islam, Ali developed similar beliefs about race as its two most outspoken leaders, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X.

Two years later, Ali got a draft notice ordering him to be inducted into the US military, which was involved in the Vietnam War. He refused on the grounds that his conscience objected to fighting the Vietnamese people who had never harmed him on behalf of a government and nation that was openly discriminating against him and its other African American citizens.

This resulted in the US government revoking both his boxing license and passport. This kept Ali away from the boxing ring, his main source of income, for close to four years, until his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1970.

Ali spent those four years campaigning against the Vietnam War. He addressed college students across America, condemning the war and racial discrimination alike.

Big Family

Muhammad Ali was married four times and had nine children – seven daughters and two sons.

His daughter, Laila Ali, became a boxer in 1999, contradicting her father’s earlier comments against female boxing.

In her tribute to Ali, Laila said her father has gone to rest.

“Knowing that he’s not suffering anymore is what gives me comfort. I’ve prepared mentally for many years, that obviously one day I was going to lose my father and that time has come,” she said in a statement.

According to CNN, Muhammad Ali died while surrounded by his entire family.

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