Boxing great Muhammad Ali, 74, died yesterday.
With his passing, the world bids farewell to a remarkable soul whose positive attitude and confidence in and out of the boxing ring, served as encouragement to many voiceless and oppressed people in the 1960s and the 1970s and even into this new century.
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, the fast-foot-hand and lip boxer shot onto the world stage by winning a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Italy. After the Games, he won 19-straight fights as a professional fighting as the "The Louisville Lip".
He reached irreversible fame by predicting and beating world champion Sonny Liston in seven-rounds in 1964 after which he announced his conversion to Islam and name change to Cassius X. One year later, the Nation of Islam bestowed the name Muhammad Ali upon the World Boxing Champion.
Controversy surrounded Ali because of the bluntness with which he identified and rejected racism along with his conscientious objector status to the Vietnam War. Threatened with jail over his refusal to accept the draft for the Vietnam war, Ali's boxing career waned for a couple of years until the United States Supreme Court upheld his conscientious objector claim.
Ali went to become a three-time heavyweight boxing world champion where he "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." against the likes as Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Leon Spinks and George Foreman. He had 56 wins, 37 by knock out and five losses in his professional boxing career.
Boxing allowed Ali to raise the bar of hope for many underprivileged black people in America, in Africa and in the Caribbean. He was adored globally.
After boxing, Ali became an ambassador for peace and in 1990 he successfully secured the release of about 12 American hostages from Iraq just before the start of the first Gulf war.
"The Greatest" leaves nine children and a wife. We honor and thank Muhammad Ali for his many contributions to humanity. May God Bless Muhammad Ali. Travel well dearest hero.