Former heavyweight boxing champion and cultural icon Muhammad Ali is dead, a family spokesman has said.
Ali, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome in 1984, died at a Phoenix hospital where he had spent the past few days being treated for respiratory complications.
“After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74. The three-time World Heavyweight Champion died this evening,” Bob Gunnell, a family spokesman said in a statement.
After a 32-year battle with Parkinson's disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74. The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died this evening.
“The Ali family would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers, and support and asks for privacy at this time,” Gunnell added.
One of the best known figures of the 20th century, at his height the boxing legend was known for his dancing feet and quick fists.
Doctors believe his neurological condition could be linked to the thousands of punches he sustained during his career.
Reaction to Ali’s death immediately poured in on Twitter. Former boxing champions Mike Tyson, George Foreman and Roy Jones Jr. all offered their condolences early Saturday morning.
Ralph Ali, Frazier & Foreman we were 1 guy. A part of me slipped away, “The greatest piece” https://t.co/xVKOc9qtub— George Foreman (@GeorgeForeman) 4 juin 2016
My heart is deeply saddened yet both appreciative and relieved that the greatest is now resting in the greatest place.— Roy Jones Jr. (@RealRoyJonesJr) 4 juin 2016
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Ali shot to fame by winning light-heavyweight gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics.
Nicknamed “The Greatest”, the American beat Sonny Liston in 1964 to win his first world title and became the first boxer to capture a world heavyweight title on three separate occasions.
He eventually retired in 1981, having won 56 of his 61 fights.
In subsequent years, he remained a much-admired sports icon. Sports Illustrated named him “Sportsman of the Century” in 1999, and the BBC named him “Sports Personality of the Century” that same year.
In 2005, President George W. Bush awarded Ali the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian honor, and he was named a flag bearer for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Ali was also the subject of numerous books and a film documentary.