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Muhammad Ali Dead at 74: World Mourns 'The Greatest' Fighter of All Time


Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, long dubbed 'The Greatest' fighter in history, has died.

Ali was hospitalized near Phoenix with respiratory problems earlier this week. He died Friday at 74.

Though the Parkinson's disease he battled for the last 30 years of his all but muted his voice, Ali will this weekend and forever be remembered for the loud and proud personality that captivated the world.

Born Cassius Clay in 1942, Ali would go on to change his name after joining the Black Muslim movement. 

As Muhammad Ali, the fighter became the first to win heavyweight titles three times. He finished his career with 37 wins by knockout.

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Funeral services are planned for this weekend in Ali's hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, where the city plans to hold a memorial. The flags were ordered to be lowered to half mast in the city to honor the death of its native son.

After news of his death spread Friday, everyone from sports stars to powerful politicians shared their grief with the world.

In a statement, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wrote:

"Muhammad Ali was The Greatest. Period. If you just asked him, he'd tell you. He'd tell you he was the double greatest; that he'd "handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail."

Obama has long listed Ali among his personal heroes. He shared that admiration with his former political opponent, John McCain.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Muhammad Ali, three time heavy-weight champion and American boxing legend. Professional boxing is a sport that can offer considerable rewards to athletes of uncommon strength, skill, and determination – and Muhammad Ali was simply ‘The Greatest’ of them all," said Senator McCain, who represents Ali's second home state of Arizona.

In the sports world, the news hit even harder.

"It's a sad day for life, man. I loved Muhammad Ali, he was my friend. Ali will never die," Don King, who promoted some of Ali's biggest fights, told the Associated Press on Saturday. "Like Martin Luther King his spirit will live on, he stood for the world."

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Another personal friend and fellow sports legend, ex NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, penned a touching tribute in Rolling Stone in which he gushed:

"During my more than 50 years in the public eye, I have met hundreds of renowned celebrities, artists, athletes, and world leaders. But only a handful embodied the self-sacrificing and heroic qualities that defined my friend and mentor, Muhammad Ali."

With his four wives, Ali had nine children. The eight child, Laila Ali, followed in her father's footsteps to become a boxer herself.

Laila Ali shared a touching photo of her daughter and her father after learning of his hospitalization. In it, the fighter who was so feared in the ring plants a delicate kiss on his grandbaby.

"I love this photo of my father and my daughter Sydney when she was a baby," Ali wrote. "Thanks for all the love and well wishes. I feel your love and appreciate it!!"

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