His hands and his mouth were furiously fast. His skill as a boxer made him “The Greatest” in his mind and in the minds of many others.
He antagonized opponents with his taunts, amused reporters with his boasts and angered government officials with his anti-war speeches. At the same time, he goaded a stubborn, hard-nosed society with his stinging jabs against pervasive racism.
Since the mid-1960s, he was one of the most famous faces on Earth, and even though his appearances in recent years were few, the name Muhammad Ali still sparked smiles all around the globe.
His death Friday at age 74 came after a lengthy battle against Parkinson’s disease. Ali was diagnosed with the disease in 1984, three years after he retired from a boxing career that began when a skinny 12-year-old Louisville, Kentucky, amateur put on the gloves.
All about Muhammad Ali
He is survived by his nine children, including daughter Laila, who, like her father, became a world champion boxer; and his fourth wife, Lonnie.