Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxing champion the world has ever known, died in a Phoenix, Arizona hospital late last night. Inna lil Lah-e wa inna ilayh-e rajioon (We are from Allah and to Him is our return). His family members were around him at his hospital bed. We pray to Allah to bless his soul.
Friday June 3, 2016, 23:19 DST
Updated: Saturday June 4, 2016, 09:43 DST
The all-time boxing champion, Muhammad Ali died in a Phoenix, Arizona hospital late last night. Inna lil Lah-e wa inna ilayh-e rajioon. Hospital sources said his condition had deteriorated rapidly and it was difficult to save him despite putting him on life support system. Ali was admitted to hospital a day earlier with serious respiratory problems but his treatment was complicated by Parkinson’s disease that the former heavyweight champion has suffered from since 1984.
Ali was 74. This is not considered a very advanced age in the contemporary world with major advances in medicine but because of his twin illnesses, his condition was described as critical. Hospital sources had confirmed that he was on life support system. Family members had flown from all over the US and abroad to be at his bedside indicating that his chances of survival appeared slim.
One source close to the family said: "It's extraordinarily grave. It's a matter of hours." Ali's wife Lonnie appeared to have resigned to the fact that the champion may not be around too much longer. She said: “Funeral arrangements are already being made."
Muhammad Ali born Cassius Clay became the world heavyweight champion when he knocked out then world champion Sonny Liston in 1964. He became a Muslim after his victory over Liston. He held the title until it was taken away from him because he refused to be drafted as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. He preferred to go to jail than to Vietnam to fight a people he said had done no harm to the African American people.
After his release from prison, he tried to regain his world heavy weight but lost his first fight to Joe Frazier in 1972. Frazier had taken the title in Ali’s absence but the former champion regained his title 1974 in what was dubbed the “Thrilla in Manila”. The fight was held in Manila, Philippines.
He lost the title again to Leon Spinks who in turn lost it to George Foreman. Ali beat Foreman in Kinshasa in 1978 becoming the only boxer in world history to win the title three times.
Since his retirement, Muhammad Ali had spent a quiet life because of Parkinson’s disease causing speech impairment. He made periodic appearances at celebrity events but otherwise kept a low profile as his health deteriorated and his speech became slurred. In the prime of his life, Ali was an extremely gifted speaker, quick on his feet and extremely witty. Despite the many injustices done to him and the broader African-American community in the US, he never showed any bitterness toward any of his tormentors.
When asked how he felt about life, Muhammad Ali is reported to have said: “I have led a good life. I hope I have done more good deeds than bad. I am prepared to meet my Creator.”
This is one battle no mortal has ever won or can ever win. The greatest boxing champion of the world also succumbed to the battle, the last of his life, with death. Perhaps the boxing world would never see a greater personality than Muhammad Ali’s.
We pray to the Merciful Lord to have mercy on him and to give him a high place in Jannah.