Muhammad Ali 1942-2016

So saddened to hear that another one of our community icons has gone on to join the ancestors.

Muhammad Ali, 1960 light heavyweight Olympic champion, three time world boxing champion, humanitarian, father and beloved civil rights advocate passed away in a Phoenix area hospital on June 3..

Much of my childhood and teen years spanned his remarkable boxing career.  Him becoming the heavyweight champion three times.  The three fights with Joe Frazier including the ‘Thrilla In Manila’. .The ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in Zaire in which he rope a doped George Foreman into defeat.

While his long battle with Parkinson’s .Disease robbed him of his verbal loquaciousness, he still remained one of the world’s most beloved figures and humanitarian .  He helped negotiate the release of 14 American hostages before Desert Storm kicked off in 1991.    

He received the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron to start the Atlanta Games in 1996.

I also lived in his hometown of Louisville, and visited the Muhammad Ali Center several times in the period I lived there after its 2006 opening for different events..

 His hometown is also feeling the loss.

Said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer in a statement.: “The values of hard work, conviction and compassion that Muhammad Ali developed while growing up in Louisville helped him become a global icon. As a boxer, he became The Greatest, though his most lasting victories happened outside the ring. Muhammad leveraged his fame as a platform to promote peace, justice and humanitarian efforts around the world, while always keeping strong ties to his hometown. Today, Muhammad Ali’s fellow Louisvillians join the billions whose lives he touched worldwide in mourning his passing, celebrating his legacy, and committing to continue his fight to spread love and hope.”

Congressman John Yarmuth (D) said in a statement, “The word champion has never fit a man better. Muhammad Ali was a champion for peace, a champion for justice, and a champion for equality. He was a man who gained fame in a violent game, but immortality as a gentle and caring soul. In the ring, there was no one better, but his contributions to humanity managed to eclipse his boxing prowess.”

But to many of us, and especially those of us who grew up during the 60’s and 70’s, he was simply The Greatest.

Rest in power and peace Champ/  You’ve earned it.

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