>> I'm still the greatest of all time.>> A boxing great, a cultural symbol, a family man. Muhammad Ali was one of the best known figures of the 20th century. But after his 32 year battle with Parkinson's disease, his death was confirmed by a family spokesman on Friday evening, the day after the champion boxer was admitted to hospital with respiratory problems.
Fans gathering to mourn the passing of the star, and taking to social media to pay tribute. Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1942, Ali rose to fame in the early 60s. Becoming the first person to win the heavyweight championship three times. With his dancing feet and quick fists he could, as he put it, float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
For a time, he was considered the most recognizable person on earth, meeting scores of world leaders, and even known in remote villages far from his homeland in the United States. But Ali became much more than a colorful and interesting athlete.>> So-called negroes.>> He spoke boldly against racism as well as the Vietnam War.
With his influence extending far beyond boxing, Ali became the unofficial spokesman for millions of black and depressed people around the world. Refusing to compromise his opinions and stand up to white authorities. His silver tongue earning him the nickname the Louisville Lip. He loved to talk, especially about himself.
In 1981 Ali retired from boxing with a 56-5 record. His diagnosis with Parkinson's coming three years later, making the once graceful athlete a prisoner in his own body. But for those who admired Ali for his courage inside and outside the ring, it was his self proclamation as the greatest that rang true until the end.