>> I'm a mad man. I shook up the wall.>> Tributes pouring in Saturday after the death of boxing legend and civil rights icon, Muhammad Ali. America had never seen an athlete like him when he burst out of the world's stage in the 1960's. Ali's fighting style in the ring and his political principles outside of it made him a symbol of struggle and triumph for a generation.
A symbol of black masculinity and pride at the time when civil rights activists were being beaten and arrested, he changed his name from Cassius Clay when he joined the Nation of Islam. A man who made his career with violence in the ring, a symbol for peace activists for refusing induction in the US military during the war in Vietnam.
His position that he could not fight for the US government abroad? Well that same government would not protect black rights at home made him an instant icon of the two defining causes of the 1960s, the Civil Rights and the Anti-War Movements. And his pension for rhyming self-praise and hurling insults at his opponents, earning the Kentucky native the nickname the Louisville Lip.
>> That's why I say I'm the greatest. I'm a poet, I'm a movie star, I'm an actor, I'm a fighter, and most of all I'm pretty.>> His boxing tactics leaving a lasting impact on the English language. The rope-a-dope, a strategy employed against George Foreman in Zaire, of letting his opponent tire himself out first before moving in for the kill.
His style transforming boxing from a sport into an art form. He danced around the boxing ring, throwing a devastating left jab when opponent's least expected it.>> I told you I was floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee.>> It was bitter irony when he diagnosed with Parkinson's, a disease that sapped his physical strength and deprived him of much of his speech.
He was honored with the lighting of the Olympic flame at the 1996 summer games at Atlanta, a crowning moment of recognition for a man who epitomized much of the American promise of personal achievement while being an outspoken critic of American policy. Ali died of a respiratory infection at a hospital near Phoenix, he was 74 years old.