Reactions to the death of Muhammad Ali

(Reuters) – Former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, whose record-setting boxing career, flair for showmanship and political stands made him one of the best-known figures of the 20th century, died on Friday aged 74. Following are some of the reactions to his death: Google+

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali (R) jabs at photographers while arriving at the Orpheum Theatre for the premiere of the film "Collateral" in Los Angeles in this August 2, 2004 file photo. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/File Photo - RTSFZ0G
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali (R) jabs at photographers while arriving at the Orpheum Theatre for the premiere of the film “Collateral” in Los Angeles in this August 2, 2004 file photo. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/File Photo – RTSFZ0G

Ali, who had long suffered from Parkinson’s syndrome which impaired his speech and made the once-graceful athlete almost a prisoner in his own body, died a day after he was admitted to a Phoenix-area hospital with a respiratory ailment.

Even so, Ali’s youthful proclamation of himself as “the greatest” rang true until the end for the millions of people worldwide who admired him for his courage both inside and outside the ring.

Along with a fearsome reputation as a fighter, he spoke out against racism, war and religious intolerance, while projecting an unshakeable confidence and humour that became a model for African-Americans at the height of the civil rights era.

“Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest human beings I have ever met,” said George Foreman, who lost to Ali in Zaire in a classic 1974 bout known as the “Rumble in Jungle.”

“No doubt he was one of the best people to have lived in this day and age. To put him as a boxer is an injustice.”

Ali enjoyed a popularity that transcended the world of sports, even though he rarely appeared in public in his later years.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

“A man who fought for us. He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t. His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing. It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled and nearly send him to jail. But Ali stood his ground. And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognise today.”

DAUGHTER MARYUM ALI

“I am happy my father no longer struggles. He is in a better place. God is the greatest.”

GEORGE FOREMAN, ALI’S OPPONENT IN THE “RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE”

“Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest human beings I have ever met. No doubt he was one of the best people to have lived in this day and age. To put him as a boxer is an injustice.”

UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

“The United Nations is grateful to have benefited from the life and work of one of the past century’s great humanitarians and advocates for understanding and peace.”

THE REV. JESSE JACKSON SR, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER, ON TWITTER”Let us pray for @MuhammadAli; good for America, world boxing champion, social transformer & anti-war hero. #TheGreatest.”

ROY JONES JR, FORMER BOXING CHAMPION, ON TWITTER

“My heart is deeply saddened yet both appreciative and relieved that the greatest is now resting in the greatest place.”

BERNICE KING, DAUGHTER OF CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER MARTIN LUTHER JR

“You were a champion in so many ways. You ‘fought’ well. Rest well.”

THE REV. AL SHARPTON, NEW YORK-BASED CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER, ON TWITTER

“Ali, he was and always will be the greatest. A true champion in and out of the ring.” FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR, FIVE DIVISION WORLD CHAMPION

“There will never be another Muhammad Ali. The black community all around the world, black people all around the world, needed him. He was the voice for us. He’s the voice for me to be where I’m at today.”

DON KING, BOXING PROMOTER

“It’s a sad day for life, man. I loved Muhammad Ali, he was my friend. Ali will never die. Like Martin Luther King, his spirit will live on, he stood for the world.”

FIGHT PROMOTER BOB ARUM

“A true great has left us. Muhammad Ali transformed this country and impacted the world with his spirit. His legacy will be part of our history for all time.”

MANNY PACQUIAO, FILIPINO BOXER AND POLITICIAN

“We lost a giant today. Boxing benefited from Muhammad Ali’s talents, but not nearly as much as mankind benefited from his humanity.”

OSCAR DE LA HOYA, FORMER WORLD CHAMPION, ON TWITTER

“A legend who transcended sport and was a true champion for all.”

INTERNATIONAL BOXING ASSOCIATION (FEDERATION THAT RUNS OLYMPIC BOXING)

“AIBA would like to honour one of the greatest boxers of all time and a true human being who fought endlessly for his beliefs. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”

PELE, BRAZILIAN SOCCER GREAT, ON INSTAGRAM

“The sporting universe has just suffered a big loss. Muhammad Ali was my friend, my idol, my hero. We spent many moments together and always kept a good connection throughout the years. The sadness is overwhelming.”

MIKE TYSON, FORMER HEAVYWEIGHT BOXING CHAMPION, ON TWITTER

“God came for his champion. So long great one.”

CARL LEWIS, NINE-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL WINNER, ON TWITTER

“My mind, my heart and soul is devastated. I admired and imitated Ali. We must not forget his conviction and love.”

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

“Muhammad Ali is dead at 74! A truly great champion and a wonderful guy. He will be missed by all!”

HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, AND HER HUSBAND, FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, IN JOINT STATEMENT

“From the day he claimed the Olympic gold medal in 1960, boxing fans across the world knew they were seeing a blend of beauty and grace, speed and strength that may never be matched again.”

ADAM SILVER, NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION COMMISSIONER

“Muhammad Ali transcended sports with his outsized personality and dedication to civil rights and social justice.”

(Compiled by Frank McGurty, Brendan O’Brien, Martyn Herman, Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Ed Osmond and Leslie Adler)

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