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Tributes pour in for 'The Greatest'

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

Tributes have flooded in from the sports world and beyond for Muhammad Ali.

George Foreman, Ali's great friend and rival from the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" fight, said: "The greatest honour, when I look back: everybody says 'I knew Muhammad, and I know this', but those eight rounds we spent together in Africa (were) probably as close as anyone who's alive has been with him, and I'll never forget that.

Speaking to Press Association Sport, Foreman, 67, revealed how much of an influence Ali had on his life.

"It's so many years now since right before the Olympics, and during the Olympics, I did an interview, and I recited poems, and I thought, 'Maybe Muhammad Ali will look at this, maybe he will hear this and see this'," he said.

"Even when I fought in the Olympics (I thought) the same.

"For all those years, since 1967, I've had my eye pointed to where he may be. I woke up this morning and it wasn't there, so there's a great emptiness in my life."

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

Sugar Ray Leonard, another fighter but from the post-Ali era, said: "I woke up this morning with a tear coming down my cheek, an ache in my chest along with an appreciation of a man, fighter and friend that I truly admired, idolised and loved in Muhammad Ali.

"My true feelings have not totally surfaced yet because no one beats Muhammad Ali. So to continue his journey I will thank God for bringing this incredible man into my life. RIP Champ."

Actor Will Smith played Ali in an eponymous film in 2001. Posting photos of the pair in the ring together on his Facebook page, Smith said simply: "You shook up the world! My mentor and my friend. You changed my life. Rest in peace."

Rock legend Rod Stewart paid tribute to sporting icon Muhammad Ali as he kicked off his 2016 UK stadium tour in Norwich on Saturday.

Rod sang a stirring rendition of his 1972 hit Angel as giant pictures of boxing great Ali were beamed onto screens behind him at a sell-out Carrow Road.

The Rev Jesse Jackson, a fellow civil rights campaigner, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "He became a champion inside the ring and a hero outside. Champion because he won the boxing matches, hero because he stood up against the war in Vietnam."

Michael Parkinson, who had a series of famous interviews with the boxer, told Today: "We mustn't deify him at all from that point of view, he was a man of many flaws, but he was a man of great genius, great charm, great humour and he was, in his quiet moments, fascinating."

Ali's former promoter Don King told CNN: "He's always been right there, Johnny on the spot, anything he could do for the benefit of mankind.

"Let us celebrate his life. This is not a time to mourn. This is a time to try to emanate the job he was doing and the burden he leaves behind for us to carry on, to remember that the people are the most important."

Speaking to 5 News, Frank Bruno said it was a combination of Ali's looks, charisma and boxing that made him so good, and that meeting him made you feel "warm and tingly".

He said: "He could fight, he could box, he had a lot of determination and will power and a lot of psychology he used on boxers, but he was a very, very intelligent guy."

Asked whether he was the greatest boxer, Bruno said: "Yes, I think so. He could box, he could fight, he could suss you out. I think definitely, pound for pound, all the way round.

"There are some boxers who have got power, some boxers have got speed, some boxers have got skill. He had everything."

Fellow British boxer Amir Khan said: "I would like to send my deepest condolences and thoughts to his family at this time. No fighter or sportsman will ever reach the level of Muhammad Ali, whose name will continue to echo through the ages. Inspiring, charismatic, a true legend - Ali will never be forgotten.

"Having the chance to meet the great man will be a memory and privilege I will always hold dear to me - an incredible human being, fighter and role model. Thank you Muhammad for inspiring us all."

Former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield told MSNBC: "I'm glad to have known Ali because when I was a kid, at eight years old, I was told I would be like Ali.

"To take it upon yourself and say; 'I'm the greatest', you put yourself in a position for people to take pot shots at you. This is what Ali did. It's amazing him becoming three-time heavyweight champion of the world. At that time people thought, 'Who could beat three?

"You have to be stronger to get up from a loss to go on and that's what Ali proved to be."

Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson tweeted: "God came for his champion. So long great one", while 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.

Former heavyweight world champion Lennox Lewis said Ali's "courage to stand up for his beliefs, his people, and his convictions" separated him from the rest.

He said: " Ali fought battles that I will never know, so those that came after him, would never have to. He paved the way for the success of all of today's sports superstars and instilled a sense of pride and responsibility inside of me, and generations of youth, around the world.

"He was my source of inspiration, and along with my other hero, Nelson Mandela, served as a shining example of grace, dignity, and courage, through a lifetime of service to others."

Former heavyweight champion David Haye, who named his son Cassius after Ali, revealed it was the late Muhammad Ali who inspired the finest victory of his career.

"When I was training to fight Nikolai Valuev, my first heavyweight title fight, I thought to myself, 'How would Muhammad Ali have fought this guy? What would he have done? What would his tactics have been?'," Haye told Press Association Sport.

"And I really sat down and thought about it, watched lots of tapes of Muhammad Ali. And his movement. I really, truly implemented that.

Tributes also came from figures outside the world of boxing.

Ringo Starr, who met the boxer along with the other members of The Beatles in 1964, tweeted: "God bless Muhammad Ali peace and love to all his family."

Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "Muhammad Ali was not just a champion in the ring - he was a champion of civil rights, and a role model for so many people."

David Beckham posted a photograph of himself meeting Ali and called him "the greatest there will ever be ... the biggest and the best".

Muhammad Ali met the Beatles in 1964 when the Fab Four flew to Miami to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show.

While Beatlemania was well under way, Ali - then still Cassius Clay - was an underdog ahead of his world title fight against Sonny Liston.

Sir Paul McCartney paid his own tribute to Ali following his death, saying: "Besides being the greatest boxer, he was a beautiful, gentle man with a great sense of humour who would often pull a pack of cards out of his pocket, no matter how posh the occasion, and do a card trick for you.

"The world has lost a truly great man."

Brazilian football great Pele, who is also regarded along with Ali as one of the greatest sports stars of all time, wrote on Instagram: "The sporting universe has just suffered a big loss.

"Muhammad Ali was my friend, my idol, my hero. We spent many moments together and always kept a good connection throughout the years. The sadness is overwhelming. I wish him peace with God. And I send love and strength to his family."

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