The world lost an icon today as we say goodbye to Muhammad Ali. The boxing legend passed away on Friday, June 3 at the age of 74 after a long fought battle with Parkinson’s disease, which he was diagnosed with in the early 80s.
His achievements inside the ring include winning a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, taking home the heavyweight title two times during the 1970s after winning important matches against “Smokin’” Joe Frazier and George Foreman, which led him to become boxing’s only three-time lineal heavyweight champion.
Ali is recognized as one of the greatest boxers of our time, but when he was outside of the ring, he worked hard to fight injustice and social change.
“Ali’s accomplishments in the boxing ring are matched only by his record of humanitarian efforts and social activism. His fighting spirit went beyond the ring to encourage people to raise their aspirations,” said the NAACP in a statement about the Kentucky-born star’s death.
During the Vietnam War in 1967, Ali refused to join the U.S. Army because he was adamantly against the battle. As a result, he was convicted in federal court of violating Selective Service laws, sentenced to five years in prison and fined $10,000.
“I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong,” he said and quickly became an advocate for the anti-war movement.
His case was appealed and overturned in 1971.
In addition to speaking out against the war, Ali fought for equality and civil rights alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., and opened The Muhammad Ali Center in his hometown of Louisville as a headquarters for the promotion of respect, tolerance, and understanding.
The American icon received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 and the NAACP President’s Award in 2009.
In his words, Ali said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
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