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Muhammad Ali, who died last Friday evening  (June 3rd 2016) aged 74, was one of the greatest icons of the 20th century, one of the world’s greatest boxers of all time, and certainly in his time, and during the era that he dominated the ring, the greatest among his contemporaries, the inimitable master of his game. The polyvalent nature of his talent: athlete, poet, civil rights campaigner, radical, gadfly, celebrity, philosopher, motivator and role model has ensured that there can never be anyone else like him. Muhammad Ali was special in his art, in his grace, and in his combination of wit and uncommon talent.


No other athlete has done as much to raise the level and quality of boxing, converting it into a mainstream spectacle that captured the imagination of the world.  He enriched boxing with his talent, but it may also be said that his personality enriched our collective humanity.  He lived between two astonishing polarities: good health and sickness, for almost the same length of time.




For 27 years, he dominated the boxing world, he could talk like the gift of speech was made specially for him, he could punch with his fists as if they were made of reflexes, he could dance around the ring like he was on a picnic, lean on the rope like he was on dope, fell his opponents with confidence, taunt them like they knew nothing, and in it all, he emerged as the “greatest”, the very best, the people’s champion. But for another 32 years, Ali lived with Parkinson’s disease which robbed him of the same tools that stood him out: he could no longer talk, his muscles became stiff, and his face stiffened…he thus reminded us of our own mortality and humanness. But even in that state, he was a symbol of human capacity and achievement. And till he breathed his last, he was one of the most beloved human beings that ever lived.


Muhammad Ali was first and foremost an American patriot. He is one of America’s most remarkable products and exports of the last century. He once boasted: “To make America the greatest is my goal, so I beat the Russian and I beat the Pole. And for the USA won the medal of gold. The Greeks said you’re better than the Cassius of old.” This was after he had won the Olympic light heavyweight gold medal in boxing at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. Muhammad Ali projected America talent and dream. He was one of those who put America effectively on the map as the land of possibilities, and it is a sign of who he was that he became better known than Coca cola, Microsoft and Mickey Mouse.


"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life." Muhammad Ali (1942 - 2016)


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