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Boxing legend Muhammed Ali has died aged 74. Friday there were reports that he had been hospitalised due to breathing problems but that he was doing OK. It seems he was not.
When Ali was a young boxer called Cassius Clay we used to tune in to watch him hammer his opponents. We did not so much tune in but rather were in the room watching as Dad was a boxing nut.
I have never like the brutal so-called sport of boxing but it is ironic that I married a man who is a boxing fan. He never met my father but I can imagine the two of them watching a match together and both joining in.
My father would listen to boxing on the radio and catch whatever match he could from either side of the Atlantic and he was an active armchair boxing fan. He would be almost ducking and diving as he watched his hero Cassius Clay take no prisoners.
Mum on the other hand would claim that Clay either hypnotised or talked his opponents into defeat. She was not the only person to make such wild claims.
Certainly as he danced gracefully around the ring and his opponents he kept a steely gaze on the other fighter and never seemed to stop talking.
But the reality is that in his early and younger days Clay was a magnificent boxer.
His name change followed a change of faith and for a brief time his popularity dipped a little. It allowed him to avoid the draft in America but he his reputation was tarnished to some.
The Guardian archives from April 29, 1967, report:
Boxing authorities in America today stripped Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) of his world heavyweight title and suspended his boxing licence after he had refused to be inducted into the United States Army.
But you could never keep Ali down and he returned to boxing against the odds.
He was a black rights campaigner and in the sixties when Britain had an unofficial "colour bar" he visited areas of London showing support.
A man who could not read and write but taught himself Ali was always a fighter, even outside of the ring.
From humble begins he became a giant of a sporting hero.
Sadly the years of boxing took a toll on his health.
The self-named pretty boy however kept his looks but was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and in recent years looked mentally frail.
Ali endured Parkinson's for 32 years.
According to the BBC Saturday the cause of death was from a respiratory illness, a condition that was complicated by Parkinson's disease. Sunday they have updated that to "Boxing legend Muhammad Ali died of "septic shock due to unspecified natural causes", his family has said."
Muhammed Ali was a great man, an inspiration to many, a fighter in every sense of the word, at times a big mouth, a showman and he will be missed.
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