The Bible teaches in Proverbs 22:1 that “a good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” It is predicated upon this philosophy that the demise of American boxing icon, Muhammad Ali, has drawn the world’s attention with tributes flowing from every part of the globe.
Ali, a three-time World Heavyweight Champion, died on Friday, June 3, at Phoenix Hospital in Arizona, USA, at the age of 74, from what family described as “septic shock due to unspecified natural causes.” He has battled Parkinson’s disease for 32 years. His medical records indicate that the boxing icon had been suffering from respiratory illness.
His remains have already arrived in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, for burial on Friday.
President Barack Obama in his tribute to the boxing icon said “Muhammad Ali shook up the world, and the world is better for it.”
Former President Bill Clinton also extended condolences to Ali’s family saying he lived a life full of “religious and political convictions that led him to make tough choices and lived with the consequences.”
Presumptive Republican front runner, Donald Trump also described Muhammad Ali as a great sports champion who will be remembered in the world, but Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton sharply criticized Trump by saying: “You will be judged by your past.” In a statement titled,
“Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States” that Ali issued last December after Trump first issued the proposal, the boxing great never mentioned Trump by name – but his message was clear.
“Our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam,” Ali wrote, “and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is.”
A loser in the famous 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” fight in Kinshasa, George Foreman, referred to Ali as one of the greatest human beings he had ever met.
In his tribute, American civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson said Ali was a man willing to sacrifice the crown and money for his principles, referring to Ali’s 1967 refusal to take part in the Vietnam War.
His decision was widely criticized by his fellow Americans and he was stripped of his title, putting his fighting career on hold for three years.
Ali shot to fame by winning gold in the light-heavyweight division at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.
The boxer, who characteristically coined himself “The Greatest,” beat Sonny Liston in 1964 to win his first world title; subsequently becoming the first boxer to capture the world heavyweight title on three separate occasions.
Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., remains the only three-time lineal world heavyweight champion. He won the title in 1964, 1974 and 1978, and retired from boxing permanently in 1981 having won 56 of his 61 fights.
He was crowned by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as “Sports Personality of the Century.”
Ancestry and Early Life
Muhammad Ali (formerly Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.) was born on January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky, to the union of Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. and Odessa O’Grady Clay.
Clay’s paternal grandparents were John Clay and Sallie Anne Clay. Clay’s sister Eva claimed that Sallie Anne was a native of the African island nation of Madagascar.
Muhammad Ali made his amateur boxing debut in 1954 and won six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two national Golden Gloves titles, an Amateur Athletic Union national title, and the Light Heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. His amateur record was 100 wins with five losses.
Ali converted to Islam, ditching what he called his “slave name” and becoming Cassius X, which was later changed to Muhammad Ali.
The funeral will take place in Ali’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, this Friday. Former US President Bill Clinton will deliver the eulogy.
Comedian Billy Crystal and sports journalist Bryant Gumbel are also expected to speak at the funeral.
There will be a private family service on Thursday ahead of the state funeral.
Friday’s events will begin with another private prayer service for family members at a Louisville funeral home.
Ali’s body will then be taken in procession through the main streets of Louisville, including an avenue that bears his name and on Broadway, where a procession was held in 1960 to celebrate his Olympic gold medal.
The main service will be at 14:00 local time (18:00 GMT) at the KFC Yum Center, which seats more than 20,000 people.
(This story was culled from Internet research)