Mohammad Ali, the greatest boxing champion, dies at 74

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The former world heavyweight boxing champion, Mohammad Ali has died. He was 74.

Ali was regarded as one of the world’s best-known sportsmen and he died at a hospital in the US city of Phoenix in Arizona state, where he was undergoing treatment since Thursday.

The news of the greatest ever boxer’s death came minutes after the doctors treating him said that the legend’s condition had deteriorated for worse.

He was suffering from a respiratory illness, a condition that was complicated by Parkinson’s disease.

His funeral is likely to take place at his hometown in Louisville, Kentucky, his family said in a statement.

Ali was arguably the best sportsperson of his time and a true legend. He was regarded as a giant of his time – a furious and loud fighter whose influence was felt far beyond the ring.

As boxer he gave new name to the game as he engaged in some of the world’s most iconic fights even though his career was interrupted for more than three years when he refused to be drafted for military service during the Vietnam War.

I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick; I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”

He beat the invincible Sonny Liston, fought a string of thrilling fights with Joe Frazier and stopped George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle” in Zaire.

But he paid a terrible price for the estimated 29,000 punches he took to his head during a career that made him perhaps the most recognised person on earth.

So, when he had thundered, “I am the greatest,” there were none who would disagree.

In his own words, Ali had said about himself, “I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick; I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”

Ali’s boxing career was replete with successes. He won Olympic light-heavyweight gold in 1960. Ali turned professional the same year and was world heavyweight champion from 1964 to 1967, 1974 to 1978 and 1978 to 1979.  He had 61 professional bouts, winning 56 (37 knockouts, 19 decisions), and losing five (4 decisions, 1 retirement) .

(With inputs from AP and BBC)

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