U.S. President Barack Obama remembers former heavyweight world champion Muhammad Ali not only as the greatest boxer, but also as a great civil rights leader comparable to the likes of Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela.
Legendary Ali’s death triggered a global outpouring of admiration and affection about the great man’s boxing brilliance as well as his political activism.
The 74-year-old Ali had been suffering for a long-time from Parkinson’s Syndrome, which almost made the one-time graceful pugilist a prisoner in his own body. He died on Friday in a Phoenix-area hospital. The cause of the death was a septic shock due to unspecified natural reasons, a family spokes person revealed on Saturday.
“Float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee” was one of the famous quotes of Muhammad Ali, who stormed in the boxing rings in 1960’s with such vigor and style which threatened many whites.
Along with the impression of a fearless boxer, Ali vociferously protested against war, religious intolerance and racism. He was stripped of the world boxing crown for refusing to join the U.S. army in the wake of Vietnam war.
Ali bounced back to regain glory by starring in some of the unforgettable bouts of the sport and clinching the title. He became the epitome of unshakeable confidence that became a model for the African-American people in the days of civil rights era and beyond.
President Obama, the first African-American President of the country, described Ali as “a man who fought for us”. The U.S. President also placed the great boxer in the same brackets with civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela.
“In the end, he went from being reviled to being revered,” civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson told CNN on Saturday.
As Ali’s long time friend and boxing promoter Bob Arum puts it, “He was a transformative figure in our society.”
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