“The Greatest,” Muhammed Ali, boxer and civil rights leader died yesterday at the age of 74. Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay, was Boxing’s greatest champion; beloved even amongst those who do not follow the sport. He was a controversial figure in his time for his conversion to Islam; his refusal to fight in the Vietnam War, a principled stance that would keep him away from boxing for over three years of what could have been his prime; and his verve, verbosity, and braggadocio in the face of the sports media, and institution that still holds some retrograde ideas about how a young black man should act.
Ali’s post-boxing life was plagued by Parkinson’s disease, largely robbing the Sports World of one of its most colorful figures, and the world of one its great inspirations. Ali was a rare, transcendent talent; for many he was the greatest hero in the history of sport. The world will never see another like him. He was “The Greatest.” R.I.P.