Former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali died late on Friday night after being hospitalized at Phoenix-area hospital in Arizona with a respiratory issue.
“After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74. The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died this evening,” family spokesperson Bob Gunnell said in a statement.
li had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for more than three decades and has kept a low profile in recent years.
Ali’s last public appearance was in April at the “Celebrity Fight Night” gala in Arizona, a charity that benefits the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center.
At the height of his career, Ali was known for his dancing feet and quick fists and his ability, as he put it, to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
He held the heavyweight title a record three times, and Sports Illustrated named him the top sportsman of the 20th century.
Nicknamed “The Greatest,” Ali retired from boxing in 1981 with a record of 56 wins, 37 by knockout, and five losses. Ali’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s came about three years after he left the ring.
Ali, born in Louisville, Kentucky, as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr, changed his name in 1964 after his conversion to Islam.
Ali had a show-time personality that he melded with dazzling footwork and great hand speed. His bouts with such fighters as Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier and George Foreman made him an international celebrity like boxing had never seen.
He became a symbol for black liberation during the 1960s as he stood up to the U.S. government by refusing to go into the Army for religious reasons.
Ali made a surprise appearance at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996, stilling the Parkinson’s tremors in his hands enough to light the Olympic flame.
He also took part in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012, looking frail in a wheelchair. He has been married four times and has nine children.