Boxing mourns the loss of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali  alongside his wife Lonnie Ali  and his sister-in-law Marilyn Williams

Muhammad Ali alongside his wife Lonnie Ali and his sister-in-law Marilyn Williams

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Three-time world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali has died at the age of 74 after he was admitted to hospital earlier in the week with a respiratory condition.

Ali, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease 32 years ago, is widely considered to be the greatest in boxing history.

“Not just boxing but the world has lost an iconic figure,” promoter Frank Warren told Sky News.

“He called himself the greatest and if he wasn’t the greatest, he was certainly one of the greatest boxers of all time.

“Not only that, he crossed over to the general mainstream public. He became bigger than sport and was probably one of the most recognisable people on the planet.

“What he did for his own race - being a black American - he stood up against the war in Vietnam to the detriment of his career and his life. I think at the time he was out of the ring for three years and was sentenced to five years in prison, which he appealed. To do that shows how strong his belief was.

“He probably paved the way for (Barack) Obama to be the president of America.”

Barry McGuigan spoke to the BBC about Ali’s actions inside and outside of the ring, including his role in the civil rights movement and his refusal to fight in the Vietnam war.

He said he was “a remarkable human being”.

“He was hugely inspirational for me and many fighters all over the world,” he said.

“Everybody wanted to box because of him.

“He was just so amazing in every way.

“More than anything else it was how humble and how brilliantly charismatic he was.

“He was a beautiful looking man, a beautiful looking individual and he had so much compassion.

“He was the greatest sportsman there has ever been and we were very lucky that he chose boxing.”

Floyd Mayweather Jr told Fox News: “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.”

Promoter Kellie Maloney said on BBC Radio 5 Live: “You either loved him or hated him, but what you did was respect him.

“He transcended boxing, took it to a new level. He was the first real superstar, not just in boxing but in sport.

“If you asked my daughters who the favourite sportsman in the world is, they’d say Muhammad Ali. He didn’t just win battles in the ring, he won battles outside of the ring.”

Maloney met Ali while at a function with her former fighter, Lennox Lewis, and added: “He could hold a room. Even when he wasn’t well, people were in awe of him.”

World cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew was emotional as he spoke to BBC 5 Live.

“He was the ultimate hero,” he said.

“It’s heartbreaking news to wake up to. The greatest sportsman of all-time in my opinion. He transcended the sport and this is a sad day.

“I hope something can be named after him. He can never be replicated.”