Former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, whose record-setting boxing career, unprecedented flair for showmanship, and controversial stands made him one of the best-known figures of the 20th century, died on Friday aged 74.
Ali’s death was confirmed in a statement issued by family spokesman Bob Gunnell late Friday evening, a day after he was admitted to a Phoenix-area hospital with a respiratory ailment.
Tributes flowed on social media for one of the greatest boxers of all time.
His official Twitter handle mourned Ali’s death with a beautiful photo.
Ali had long suffered from Parkinson’s syndrome, which impaired his speech and made the once-graceful athlete almost a prisoner in his own body.
Even when he was at his peak in his career and health, his main goal was always to get to heaven, RIP, Muhammad Ali pic.twitter.com/07tD96UMDW— Mohammed Najjar (@Moe_najjar) June 4, 2016
Ali proclaimed himself “the greatest” - as well as “the boldest, the prettiest, the most superior, most scientific, most skillfullest.”
Few could argue with him at his peak in the 1960s. With his dancing feet and quick fists, he could - as he put it - float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. He was the first person to win the heavyweight championship three times.
"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."–Muhammad Ali— Adam Khan (@Khanoisseur) June 4, 2016
Ali became much more than a colorful and interesting athlete. He spoke boldly against racism in the ‘60s, as well as the Vietnam War.
Ali was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on Jan. 17, 1942, as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., a name shared with a 19th century slavery abolitionist. He later changed his name after his conversion to Islam.
A child asked Muhammad Ali what he would do when he retired. His long, beautiful answer stunned the crowd.https://t.co/qAuYcJUmv1— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) June 3, 2016
Ali is survived by his wife, the former Lonnie Williams, who knew him when she was a child in Louisville, along with his nine children.
Muhammad Ali on his biggest fearhttps://t.co/2vWlpVO5H8— Full Court Prez (@fullcourtprez) June 4, 2016
RIP to Muhammad Ali it's hard to believe he is gone. Praying for his family and friends as they go through this trying time.— Sanath Jayasuriya (@sanath07) June 4, 2016
Mohammad Ali was an icon, took bold political positions, stood up for civil rights and dissented when it was most important to do so. #RIP— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) June 4, 2016
Muhammad Ali, pacifist, Muslim. Convicted as a felon simply because he refused to go to Vietnam: "No Vietnamese ever called me n*****." -Ali— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) June 4, 2016
A man who shook up the world has passed on to the next stage of existence. Mohammed Ali was one… https://t.co/VySekbXO1Q— Joe Rogan (@joerogan) June 4, 2016
Read what Muhammad Ali wrote in his memoir on the page titled "HOW I WOULD like to be REMEMBERED" pic.twitter.com/VT2ivwUoLc— Chris Donovan (@chrisdonovan) June 4, 2016
Ralph Ali, Frazier & Foreman we were 1 guy. A part of me slipped away, "The greatest piece" https://t.co/xVKOc9qtub— George Foreman (@GeorgeForeman) June 4, 2016
RIP to one of the greatest to ever step in the ring! https://t.co/E4LcmT2ME7— Roy Jones Jr. (@RealRoyJonesJr) June 4, 2016
RIP Muhammad Ali - an incredible athlete, an extraordinary showman; a man who changed the world. pic.twitter.com/ez1F8qDqmm— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) June 4, 2016
The Muhammad Ali, The Greatest Ever -- for all the right reasons -- R.I.P. There's never been anyone like you; never will be.#GodBlessYou— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) June 4, 2016
Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela Johannesburg, South Africa, 1993 by Howard Bingham. pic.twitter.com/EmyYTrWtcV— Alex (@draaiomjeoren1) June 4, 2016
"The man who has no imagination has no wings." -Muhammad Ali pic.twitter.com/kANG5hRjh9— Reilly Newman (@reillynewman) June 4, 2016
One of my favorite clips. Muhammad Ali and Michael Jackson (1977) pic.twitter.com/LIcPKX53xu— TonyTheTiger™ (@datyger927) June 4, 2016
Muhammad Ali so much more than a boxer... pic.twitter.com/tp0y8utQcV— Jenius (@PersianCeltic) June 4, 2016