Muhammad Ali: Boxing legend, activist and ‘The Greatest’ to a world of fans, Dies
By Steve Almasy, CNN
(CNN) 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 had been 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.
He is survived by his nine children, including daughter Laila, who like her father became a world champion boxer; and his fourth wife, Lonnie.
Ali was known in the ring for his flashing hand speed — unusual for a heavyweight — for his showmanship and also for his brashness and braggadocio when a microphone was put before him. He taunted opponents before matches, trash-talked them during and proclaimed his greatness to reporters afterward.