Eight facts about Muhammad Ali - Emirates24|7

Eight facts about Muhammad Ali

Pic: Reuters

As news of the death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali spread Friday night, celebrities, filmmakers and athletes were among the many people paying tribute to the champion on social media.

"We will never forget your courage, standing up to those in power," wrote filmmaker Michael Moore.

Photo taken on May 24, 2011 shows Muhammad Ali (C) greeted after a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington (AFP)

"So long great one," wrote fellow boxer Mike Tyson.

ABC's Ben Sherwood quoted his thoughts on achieving the seemingly impossible:

Edgar Wright, Lionel Richie and Holly Robinson Peete also weighed in. "Always the champ," proclaimed Patricia Arquette.

Photo taken on January 15, 1998 shows Moroccan King Hassan II (R) decorating Muhammad Ali during a ceremony in the Royal Palace in Rabat (AFP)

"Everybody Loves Raymond" creator Phil Rosenthal reminded that he was called "The G.O.A.T." -- the Greatest of All Time.

"Fly like a butterfly," said actor Josh Gad.


Eight facts about Muhammad Ali

Eight facts about former boxing champ Muhammad Ali:

* Ali had a show-time personality, dazzling footwork and great hand speed that combined to make him a champion like his sport had never seen. His career record was 56 victories, 37 of them by knockout, and five losses. He held the world championship an unprecedented three different times.

* Fighting under his given name of Cassius Clay, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight competition at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. In a 1975 autobiography he said he threw the medal into a river one night after being refused service in a Louisville restaurant and being harassed by a gang of whites. Two biographers, however, said Ali actually lost the medal unintentionally.

* His first professional fight was a six-round decision in 1960 over Tunney Hunsaker, whose day job was police chief of Fayetteville, West Virginia. Ali and Hunsaker became friends and Ali wrote in an autobiography that one of the hardest body blows he ever received came from Hunsaker.

Photo taken on January 14, 1999 shows Muhammad Ali kissing the fist of Mexican-American lightweight champion Fernando Vargas during the Mike Tyson-Francois Botha weigh-in at the MGM Grand  Casino in Las Vegas (AFP)

* After Malcolm X helped Ali become a member of the Nation of Islam, he dropped his given name in favor of Cassius X. Malcolm X later split from the church in a dispute but the fighter stayed on and changed his name to Muhammad Ali, which Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad said was his "true name."

* Claiming conscientious objector status, Ali refused to be inducted into the U.S. Army in 1967. He was sentenced to five years in prison, lost his title and could not get a fight at a time when he was in his athletic prime. He never went to prison while his case was under appeal and in 1971 the US Supreme Court overturned the conviction.

* In 1984 Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson's syndrome that apparently was linked to his career. It left him slow, shaky and unable to speak much above a whisper but close associates said he never lost his sense of humor or zeal for his faith.

* Ali, named the top sportsman of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated magazine, met world leaders such as Queen Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II, Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein. He was given a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

* The US Army measured Ali's IQ at 78. In his autobiography he said, "I only said I was the greatest, not the smartest."   


Muhammad Ali was not only a boxing champion, he was a championship talker. Following are some quotations from Ali:

* "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."
* "It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up."
* "Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up."
* "At home I am a nice guy but I don't want the world to know. Humble people, I've found, don't get very far."
* "I've wrestled with alligators. I've tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning, and throw thunder in jail. You know I'm bad. Just last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick. I'm so mean, I make medicine sick."

Photo taken on October 19, 1974 shows Muhammad Ali 11 days before the heavy weight world championship  in Kinshasa (AFP)

* "I'm not the greatest. I'm the double greatest. Not only do I knock 'em out, I pick the round. I'm the boldest, the prettiest, the most superior, most scientific, most skillfullest fighter in the ring today."
* "I know I got it made while the masses of black people are catchin' hell but as long as they ain't free, I ain't free."
* "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong."
* "I may not talk perfect white talk-type English but I give you wisdom."
* "If Ali says a mosquito can pull a plough, don't ask how. Hitch him up!"
* "I'm the ‘onliest’ person that can speak to everybody in the whole world. My name is known in Serbia, Pakistan, Morocco. These are countries that don't follow the Kentucky Derby."
* "Sometimes I feel a little sad because I can see how some things I said could upset some people. But I did not deliberately try to hurt anyone. The hype was part of my job, like skipping rope."
* "Now the things that once were so effortless - my strong voice and the quickness of my movements - are more difficult. But I get up every day and try to live life to the fullest because each day is a gift from God."   

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