By Stacy M. Brown

(The Washington Informer, NNPA Member) – 

Muhammad Ali’s historic win against George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire in 1974 was perhaps the greatest of all of his ring victories.

Ali dropped Foreman in the eighth round of that heavyweight bout known as “The Rumble in the Jungle.” Foreman was among the first to pay homage to the fallen champion when news of his death spread late Friday evening on June 3. He was 74.

“It’s been said it was ‘rope-a-dope,’ Ali beat me with,” tweeted Foreman. “No, (it was) his beauty that beat me.”

Early Saturday morning, Mike Tyson tweeted, “God came for his champion. So long great one.”

After a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, the world-renowned champion died at a Phoenix area hospital. The iconic sports figure was fighting respiratory issues that were complicated by the Parkinson’s that he was diagnosed with in the 1980s, the Associated Press reported. Ali had been hospitalized several times in recent years.

Boxing great and former world champion Sugar Ray Leonard, said that he woke up Saturday morning with a tear streaming down his cheek. In a statement, Leonard said that he admired, idolized and loved 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,” said Leonard.

In a press statement, Ali’s family said his funeral would be held in his hometown of Louisville. Ali’s family also thanked the public for the outpouring of support.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff in Ali’s honor.

“The values of hard work, conviction and compassion that Muhammad Ali developed while growing up in Louisville helped him become a global icon,” said Fischer in statement released on Twitter. “As a boxer, he became ‘The Greatest,’ though his most lasting victories happened outside the ring. Muhammad leveraged his fame as a platform to promote peace, justice and humanitarian efforts around the world, while always keeping strong ties to his hometown.”

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama also paid tribute to Ali.

“Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing,” said Barack Obama in a statement. The president said he keeps a pair of Ali’s gloves on display in his White House study. “But, we’re grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him, if just for a while; for how fortunate we all area that ‘The Greatest’ chose to grace our time.”

“Muhammad Ali was not only a champion in the boxing ring, but he was a champion of human and civil rights,” said G. K. Butterfield, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “During a difficult time in American history he stood on principle to end racism and bigotry. In doing so, Ali showed the world how a true champion can stand with courage, self-respect, and dignity. Muhammad Ali made a considerable impact on the world and his spirit and his work will live on for generations to come. On behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus, we send our deepest condolences to his family, and we mourn the loss of a true American hero.”

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) also released a statement mourning Ali.

“We extend to the Ali family our heartfelt condolences. Representing the Black Press in America and throughout the world, the NNPA affirms Muhammad Ali’s outstanding world-class achievement, leadership and courage in boxing, human rights and philanthropy,” said NNPA President Dr. Benjamin Chavis.

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