After suffering for more than 32 years with Parkinson’s disease. Iconic boxing legend and a former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74 at a hospital in the US city of Phoenix in Arizona state after being admitted on Thursday.
The funeral will take place in Ali’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, his family said in a statement.
This sad news comes after Muhammad was rushed to the hospital on June 2 for a respiratory issue. He was determined to be in fair condition following the hospitalization, according to his rep, but has now succumbed to the illness.
However, this was not the first time the former boxer has had health issues. He spent time in the hospital in Dec. 2014 after suffering a bout of pneumonia, and found himself back there in Jan. 2015 to be treated for an infection. Fans feared his death would actually come much sooner than now, too, because in Feb. 2013, his brother gave an interview claiming Ali couldn’t speak and would be dead in “days.” His daughter refuted the statement at the time, though.
In case you’re not familiar with Muhammad’s career, he’s widely considered as the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time.
Ali, originally known as Cassius Clay, began training at 12 years old and at the age of 22 won the world heavyweight championship in 1964 from Sonny Liston in a stunning upset. Shortly after that bout, Ali joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name. He converted to Sunni Islam in 1975, and 30 years later began adhering to Sufism.
In 1967, three years after winning the heavyweight title, Ali refused to be conscripted into the U.S. military, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War. He was eventually arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges and stripped of his boxing title. He did not fight again for nearly four years—losing a time of peak performance in an athlete’s career. Ali’s appeal worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court where, in 1971, his conviction was overturned. Ali’s actions as a conscientious objector to the war made him an icon for the larger counterculture generation.
Ali remains the only three-time lineal world heavyweight champion; he won the title in 1964, 1974, and 1978. Between February 25, 1964, and September 19, 1964, Muhammad Ali reigned as the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion.
Nicknamed “The Greatest”, Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among these were the first Liston fight, three with rival Joe Frazier, and one with George Foreman, in which he regained titles he had been stripped of seven years earlier.