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Muhammad Ali's brother pays tribute to 'God-sent blessing'

Published 04/06/2016

In this March 29, 1967, file photo, heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, center left, and Dr. Martin Luther King speak to reporters. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74. (AP Photo/File)
In this March 29, 1967, file photo, heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, center left, and Dr. Martin Luther King speak to reporters. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74. (AP Photo/File)
In this Sept. 13, 2012, file photo, retired boxing champion Muhammad Ali, center, waves alongside his wife Lonnie Ali, left, and his sister-in-law Marilyn Williams, right, after receiving the Liberty Medal during a ceremony at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)
In this May 25, 1965, file photo, heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali is held back by referee Joe Walcott, left, after Ali knocked out challenger Sonny Liston in the first round of their title fight in Lewiston, Maine. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74. (AP Photo/File)
In this Feb. 25, 1968, file photo, former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali speaks at a Black Muslim convention in Chicago. Seated behind Ali is Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74. (AP Photo/file)
In this July 19, 1996, file photo, Muhammad Ali watches as the flame climbs up to the Olympic torch during the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics, in Atlanta. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74. (AP Photo/Doug Mills, File)
This is an Oct. 9, 1974, file photo showing Muhammad Ali. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)(AP Photo/FIle)
This is a 1995 file photo showing Muhammad Ali smiling during a visit to New York. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, FIle)
In this Sept. 17, 1974, file photo, Muhammad Ali is greeted in downtown Kinshasa, Zaire. Ali is in Zaire to fight George Foreman. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74. (AP Photo)
In this May 25, 1965 file photo, perspiration beads on the face of world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali during training for his fight with Sonny Liston, in Lewiston, Maine. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74. (AP Photo/File)
In this Feb. 22, 2012, file photo, former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali poses at St. Joseph's Hospital Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
In this Oct. 1, 1975, file photo, Muhammad Ali's throws a right at Joe Frazier in the 13th round in their title bout in Manila, Philippines. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74. (AP Photo/FILE)
In this Sept. 27, 2014, file photo, Muhammad Ali is shown before the Ali Humanitarian Awards ceremony in Louisville, Ky. A spokesman for boxing great Muhammad Ali says the former heavyweight champion is being treated in a hospital for a respiratory issue. Spokesman Bob Gunnell said Thursday, June 2, 2016, that Ali is being treated by doctors as a precaution. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)
This file photo taken on May 24, 2011 shows World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali arriving at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, dies at 74. The former heavyweight world champion was hospitalized on Thursday at a Phoenix, Arizona, hospital with a respiratory issue, which US media reported was complicated by his Parkinson's disease. / AFP PHOTO / YURI GRIPASYURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on May 24, 2011 shows shows World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, dies at 74. The former heavyweight world champion was hospitalized on Thursday at a Phoenix, Arizona, hospital with a respiratory issue, which US media reported was complicated by his Parkinson's disease. / AFP PHOTO / YURI GRIPASYURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on December 16, 1994 shows Legendary US boxer Muhammad Ali is kissed by a young Ecuadoran girl at the Quito's Ruminahui Coliseum, Ecuador. Boxing icon Muhammad Ali died on Friday, June 3, a family spokesman said in a statement. "After a 32-year battle with Parkinsons disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74," spokesman Bob Gunnell said. / AFP PHOTO / Fernando AraujoFERNANDO ARAUJO/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on November 10, 2006 shows US boxing legend Muhammad Ali (R) is greeted by actor Dustin Hoffman at Madison Square Garden in New York. Boxing icon Muhammad Ali died on Friday, June 3, a family spokesman said in a statement. "After a 32-year battle with Parkinsons disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74," spokesman Bob Gunnell said. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on January 14, 1999 shows Heavyweight boxing legend Muhammad Ali (L) kissing the fist of Mexican-American lightweight champion Fernando Vargas during the Mike Tyson-Francois Botha weigh-in at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. Boxing icon Muhammad Ali died on Friday, June 3, a family spokesman said in a statement. "After a 32-year battle with Parkinsons disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74," spokesman Bob Gunnell said. / AFP PHOTO / MIKE NELSONMIKE NELSON/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on January 15, 1998 shows Moroccan King Hassan II (R) decorating former World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali during a ceremony in the Royal Palace in Rabat. Boxing icon Muhammad Ali died on Friday, June 3, a family spokesman said in a statement. "After a 32-year battle with Parkinsons disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74," spokesman Bob Gunnell said. / AFP PHOTO / ABDELHAK SENNAABDELHAK SENNA/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on January 15, 1998 shows Former World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali participating in a religious ceremony for the holy month of Ramadan in the Royal Palace in Rabat. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, dies at 74. The former heavyweight world champion was hospitalized on Thursday at a Phoenix, Arizona, hospital with a respiratory issue, which US media reported was complicated by his Parkinson's disease. / AFP PHOTO / ABDELHAK SENNAABDELHAK SENNA/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on October 27, 1986 shows former heavyweight world boxing champion Muhammad Ali posing in Ellis Island before 80 Ellis Island medals of honor were awarded in tribute to the USA's ethnic heritages. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, dies at 74. The former heavyweight world champion was hospitalized on Thursday at a Phoenix, Arizona, hospital with a respiratory issue, which US media reported was complicated by his Parkinson's disease. / AFP PHOTO / MARIA BASTONEMARIA BASTONE/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on September 10, 1974 shows Former world heavyweight champion US Muhammad Ali posing in Paris, during a stopover on his way to Kinshasa, Zaire, before his world heavyweight championship fight against titleholder US George Foreman on October 30, 1974. Boxing icon Muhammad Ali died on Friday, June 3, a family spokesman said in a statement. "After a 32-year battle with Parkinsons disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74," spokesman Bob Gunnell said. / AFP PHOTO / --/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on October 05, 1986 shows Former heavyweight world boxing champion Muhammad Ali speaking during a press conference at the Marriott hotel in Cairo, Egypt. Boxing icon Muhammad Ali died on Friday, June 3, a family spokesman said in a statement. "After a 32-year battle with Parkinsons disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74," spokesman Bob Gunnell said. / AFP PHOTO / MIKE NELSONMIKE NELSON/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on March 24, 2012 shows Director David Foster (R) bumping fists with boxing legend Muhammad Ali on stage at the Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night XVIII in Phoenix, Arizona. The event supports the fight against Parkinson's disease and this year also celebrates Ali's 70th birthday. Heavyweight boxing legend Muhammad Ali, an icon of the 20th Century whose fame transcended the sport during a remarkable career that spanned three decades, died June 3, 2016, his family said. / AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECKROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on March 24, 2012 shows Boxing legend Muhammad Ali adjusting his glasses on stage at Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night XVIII in Phoenix, Arizona. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, dies at 74. The former heavyweight world champion was hospitalized on Thursday at a Phoenix, Arizona, hospital with a respiratory issue, which US media reported was complicated by his Parkinson's disease. / AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECKROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on January 01, 1965 U.S. boxing champion Cassius Clay alia Muhammad Ali in Paris. Boxing icon Muhammad Ali died on Friday, June 3, a family spokesman said in a statement. "After a 32-year battle with Parkinsons disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74," spokesman Bob Gunnell said. / AFP PHOTO / PIGISTEPIGISTE/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on October 30, 1974 shows Former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali (L) and titleholder US George Foreman (R) fighting on October 30, 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire during their world heavyweight championship match. Ali won by knocking out Foreman in the eighth round. Heavyweight boxing legend Muhammad Ali, an icon of the 20th Century whose fame transcended the sport during a remarkable career that spanned three decades, died June 3, 2016, his family said. / AFP PHOTO / --/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on October 27, 1974 shows US boxing heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) standing with her mother Odessa Grady Clay during a training session three days before the heavy weight world championship in Kinshasa. Boxing icon Muhammad Ali died on Friday, June 3, a family spokesman said in a statement. "After a 32-year battle with Parkinsons disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74," spokesman Bob Gunnell said. / AFP PHOTO / STRSTR/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on October 30, 1974 shows the fight opposing former world heavyweight boxing champion the American Muhammad Ali (R) and his compatriot and titleholder George Foreman (L) in Kinshasa. Ali won and got back his title. Boxing icon Muhammad Ali died on Friday, June 3, a family spokesman said in a statement. "After a 32-year battle with Parkinsons disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74," spokesman Bob Gunnell said. / AFP PHOTO / --/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on October 19, 1974 shows US boxing heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) 11 days before the heavy weight world championship in Kinshasa. Boxing icon Muhammad Ali died on Friday, June 3, a family spokesman said in a statement. "After a 32-year battle with Parkinsons disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74," spokesman Bob Gunnell said. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGERSTRINGER/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on October 21, 1996 shows Boxing great Muhammad Ali throws a punch towards photographers during a press conference in Jakarta. Boxing icon Muhammad Ali died on Friday, June 3, a family spokesman said in a statement. "After a 32-year battle with Parkinsons disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74," spokesman Bob Gunnell said. / AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALLJOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on September 01, 1994 shows Boxing great Muhammad Ali receiving a punch from a 79 old "sparring-partner" during a visit in a old people's home in Macau. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, dies at 74. The former heavyweight world champion was hospitalized on Thursday at a Phoenix, Arizona, hospital with a respiratory issue, which US media reported was complicated by his Parkinson's disease. / AFP PHOTO / Mike FialaMIKE FIALA/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on April 25, 1995 shows Former world heavyweight Boxing champion Muhammad Ali smiling during a press conference in Tokyo. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, dies at 74. The former heavyweight world champion was hospitalized on Thursday at a Phoenix, Arizona, hospital with a respiratory issue, which US media reported was complicated by his Parkinson's disease. / AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKATORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken on May 24, 2011 shows World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. Boxing icon Muhammad Ali died on Friday, June 3, a family spokesman said in a statement. "After a 32-year battle with Parkinsons disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74," spokesman Bob Gunnell said. / AFP PHOTO / YURI GRIPASYURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images
Taken on May 24, 2011 shows Legendary heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali (C) is greeted after a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. Boxing icon Muhammad Ali died on Friday, June 3, a family spokesman said in a statement. "After a 32-year battle with Parkinsons disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74," spokesman Bob Gunnell said. / AFP PHOTO / YURI GRIPASYURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images

Muhammad Ali was an "angel" and a "God-sent blessing to this Earth", his brother Rahman said as it was revealed he died from septic shock caused by "unspecified natural causes".

The three-time world heavyweight champion, who had battled Parkinson's disease for 32 years, died in Phoenix, Arizona, on Friday evening local time after being admitted to hospital with a respiratory condition on Monday.

"TheGreatest" one of the most influential men that ever lived. RIP Muhammad Ali pic.twitter.com/E4cLvaq4fV

— Carl Frampton MBE (@RealCFrampton) June 4, 2016




Very sad to hear that the greatest & exceptionally wonderful Muhammad Ali has died. " I ain't got no quarrel with them Vietcong" #SuperStar

— Martin McGuinness(@M_McGuinness_SF) June 4, 2016

God bless Muhammad Ali peace and love to all his family.

— #RingoStarr(@ringostarrmusic) June 4, 2016

God came for his champion. So long great one. @MuhammadAli #TheGreatest #RIP pic.twitter.com/jhXyqOuabi

— Mike Tyson (@MikeTyson) June 4, 2016

#RIPAli My sporting hero leaving us all. I met you in 1999 and will never forget the life in your eyes.. #AliTweet #MuhammadAli

— Matt Dawson (@matt9dawson) June 4, 2016

A very sad day for my sport. There are few real heroes left in this world. Today we lost "TheGreatest of All Time" pic.twitter.com/aOhrzYNcl5

— James DeGale(@jamesdegale1) June 4, 2016

RIP. The Greatest Of All Time. #MuhammedAli pic.twitter.com/m3zKroLHK7

— Amir Khan (@amirkingkhan) June 4, 2016

A special message about @MuhammadAli, he was a great fighter and a inspirational human being. RIP champ. pic.twitter.com/193kylBoyq

— Amir Khan (@amirkingkhan) June 4, 2016

His funeral will take place in his home town of Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday, where flags have been flying at half-mast since his death was announced.

Ali died at 9.10pm local time, his spokesman Bob Gunnell said, surrounded by his family for the last hour of his life.

One of his daughters, Hana Ali, said that his heart would not stop beating for 30 minutes after all his other organs failed.

Writing on Instagram, she said: "No one had even seen anything like it."

She said family members were hugging and kissing him, holding his hands and chanting an Islamic prayer while his heart kept beating and called it a "true testament to the strength of his spirit and will".

Ali's younger brother Rahman Ali, who was also a heavyweight boxer, said he was a "sweet, kind, nice" man who "was the world's most famous person".

He told the BBC: "There was nobody on this Earth more famous than Muhammad Ali, he was known in every country.

"God blessed him because he was such a sweet person. My mother and father were sweet, good people, and he came from good stock. He was a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful man, he will be missed."

Mr Ali said his brother's spirit, both inside and out of the ring, came from the upbringing their parents gave them, but said he was "one of a kind", adding: "There will never be another Muhammad Ali.

Speaking through tears, he said he remembered Ali "hugging me, making me laugh, kissing me", and said he was so kind he would give you the shirt from his back.

He said: "He loved everybody, he had a good heart. So I cry from joy, and happiness."

Asked how he wanted Ali to be remembered, he said: "I want Muhammad to be remembered as a humanitarian, a loving, kind, sweet, good man."

Tributes have flooded in from around the world, with friends and fellow fighters paying Ali, who was voted Sports Personality of the Century, the highest accolades.

US president Barack Obama said he "shook up the world and the world is better for it".

In a heartfelt tribute Mr Obama revealed he keeps a pair of Ali's gloves in his private study at the White House, and said we are fortunate that "The Greatest chose to grace our time".

George Foreman, Ali's friend and rival from the famous Rumble In The Jungle fight, said: "We were like one guy - part of me is gone."

Ali's death leaves Foreman as the sole significant survivor of the golden age of the heavyweights in which Joe Frazier, Jimmy Young, Ron Lyle, Ken Norton and Jimmy Ellis were also prominent.

"Each time one of us leaves, I tell everybody: Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, we were really just one guy," Foreman told Press Association Sport.

"And every time one slips away, you feel like you've lost a piece, and Muhammad Ali was the greatest piece of all."

Mr Gunnell said a procession on Friday would take the boxer "through the streets of Louisville to allow anyone who's there from the world to say goodbye".

His body will pass the Muhammad Ali Centre, travel along Muhammad Ali Boulevard and through his former neighbourhood. The procession will end at Cave Hill cemetery for a private family ceremony.

An interfaith memorial service will be held at the KFC Yum! Centre in Louisville at 2pm on Friday. Eulogies will be led by former US president Bill Clinton, actor Billy Crystal and American sportscaster Bryant Gumbel. The service will also be shown online.

Reading a statement from Ali's family, Mr Gunnell said: "Muhammad Ali was truly the people's champion and the celebration will reflect his devotion to all races, religions, and backgrounds.

"Muhammad's extraordinary boxing career only encompassed half of his life. The other half was committed to sharing a message of people and inclusion with the world.

Ali, widely considered to be the greatest in boxing history - as well as a key figure in America's civil rights movement - is survived by his fourth wife Lonnie, whom he married in 1986, and nine children, many of whom were reported to have flown to their father's bedside on Thursday and Friday.

At his last public appearances he looked increasingly frail, including on April 9 when he wore sunglasses and was hunched over at the annual Celebrity Fight Night dinner in Phoenix, which raises funds for Parkinson's treatment.

Ali had suffered from Parkinson's for three decades, the extent of his illness brought to the world stage when he trembled badly while lighting the Olympic torch in 1996 in Atlanta.

Doctors say the Parkinson's was probably caused by the thousands of punches Ali took during a career which saw him win 56 of his 61 bouts.

Ali, who changed his name from Cassius Clay to throw off what he saw as the yoke of racism, first came to prominence when he won gold at the age of 18 at the 1960 Rome Olympics in the heavyweight division.

He went on to become the first man in history to win the world heavyweight title three times, and along the way fought race wars, was stripped of his world title for refusing to fight in the US war in Vietnam and lost his boxing licence for close to four years as a result.

He was outspoken, eloquent and poetic, perhaps his most famous quip being that he would "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee".

Many in the UK will remember Ali's four appearances on Sir Michael Parkinson's chat show in the 1970s and 1980s.

Sir Michael said: "He was not a man without flaws. You have to consider those. But if you wanted to concentrate on what was attractive about him I could talk forever."

He added: "I could not believe how beautiful he was. He was an extraordinary looking man. He was graceful and all those things and, of course, he was as funny as hell."

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