Even when one prepares for grief, the end still hurts. This evening news broke that Muhammad Ali, legendary boxing superstar, had passed away at the age of 74. Ali was transported to the hospital earlier this weekend for a respiratory ailment.
Known for his keen ability to back up his grandiose claims inside the ring, Ali began boxing at the age of 12, and quickly progressed to win an Olympic gold medal as a light heavyweight at the 1960 Games in Tokyo. This propelled him straight to the stardom, scoring his first big win against Sonny Liston in 1964, and quickly changing his name from Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. to the household name we all know today.
Ali stood up for civil rights early on, putting his Islamic faith at the forefront during interviews – and confusing the media. He was a major opponent of the Vietnam War, and was exiled from the ring and stripped of his nine-time Light Heavyweight Championship title after being convicted of draft evasion. It took a massive legal battle that went all the way up to the Supreme Court until Ali was allowed back in the ring.
He would continue to fight and break world records in the ring throughout the ‘70’s; his 1964 and 1974 championship wins have gone in history down as some of the greatest matches of all time. This would continue with mixed wins and losses until 1979, when, already on a losing streak, Ali lost by knockout (for the first and only time) to Larry Holmes, and then Trevor Berbick. It was only a few years later, after dealing with slurred speech and shaking, that Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. It was 1984.
Ali appeared several times in various forms of media since then, but after 2013, the fighter was mostly in and out of the hospital.
Celebrities, fans, and friends took to Twitter to remember Ali’s legacy:
Ali leaves behind his fourth wife, Yolanda Williams, two sons, and seven daughters. His daughter Leila Ali retired from boxing in 2007, undefeated.