Celebs Pay Tribute To Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali, celebs
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The fighter floated through the boxing ring like a butterfly and stung politicians like a bee

1. World Champion Boxer Dead at 74

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The Short of It:

Muhammad Ali, the boxer and activist whose ability to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee made him a legend, passed away this past Friday at age 74 due to septic shock. Athletes and celebrities like Serena Williams and Simon Cowell, to President Obama and JK Rowling have payed tribute to the boxing champion.

The Longer Version of It:

Since the mid 1960s, Ali drew attention worldwide with his jabs in the boxing ring and in the fight for equal rights. His skill as a boxer earned him the nickname "The Greatest". Ali is still the only three-time lineal world heavyweight champion, having won the title in 1964, 1974, and 1978.

Ali's fights outside of the ring kept him a relevant figure in politics as well. He changed his birth name from Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. to Muhammad Ali shortly after winning his heavyweight title and later rejected the Vietnam draft, citing his religious beliefs – a controversial move that eventually blocked him from boxing for four years and made him an icon for the counterculture generation of the 60s.

By 1981, Ali retired from boxing and was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in the years that followed. Throughout the later decades of his life his struggle with Parkinson's deteriorated his speech and mobility. His physical limitations did not keep him from goodwill missions as a guest of the United Nations and other humanitarian works. In 2001 he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work in the civil rights movement and work with the UN.

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