The loss of Muhammad Ali is being mourned across the globe today, showing just how much “the greatest” meant to people from all walks of life. Ali was certainly a force inside the ring and arguably the greatest boxer of all time — and certainly the best in his era — but his life outside the ring eclipsed what he managed to do with his fists. When somebody dies, we’re usually quick to talk about how great their loss is and how they touched lives. With Ali, it is no exaggeration.
As LeBron James put it in a chat with Chris Broussard on ESPN before Ali passed, Ali was so much more than just a boxing champion:
“When I was a kid I was amazed by what Ali did in the ring,” LeBron told Broussard. “As I got older and started to read about him and watch things about him I started to realize what he did in the ring was secondary to what he meant outside of the ring—just his influence, what he stood for.”
“The reason why he’s the [greatest] is not because of what he did in the ring, which was unbelievable… It’s what he did outside of the ring, what he believed in, what he stood for, along with Jim Brown and Oscar Robertson, Lew Alcindor—obviously who became Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar]—Bill Russell, Jackie Robinson. Those guys stood for something. He’s part of the reason why African-Americans today can do what we do in the sports world. We’re free. They allow us to have access to anything we want. It’s because of what they stood for, and Muhammad Ali was definitely the pioneer for that.”
Tributes are pouring out on social media, with many in the sports and entertainment world paying their respects. Sports Illustrated shared their tribute cover to the fallen champion, with many others deciding to share some of the most iconic images from Ali’s career:
Former opponent George Foreman leads the voices from the sports world, followed closely by Mike Tyson and a bevy of similar fighters that owe Ali for their careers in some form or another.
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Today my heart goes out to a pioneer, a true legend, and a hero by all means! Not a day went by entering the gym that I didn't think of you. Your charisma, your charm and above all, your class are all of the elements that will be greatly missed by myself and the world. You are someone that inspired me greatly throughout my boxing journey and words cannot express how great you were as a person! Thank you for everything you've done for Black America, in the the world of sports & entertainmen and for the legacy you leave behind! My sincerest condolences to the Ali family!
Elsewhere, the entertainment and political world is paying tribute to Ali. J.K. Rowling uses the fighter’s own words to help get the weight of his loss out in the open.
There are sure to be many more, so keep an eye here as they arrive. There’s no shortage of great stories from Ali’s life and his influence will be truly hard to measure.
(Via Sports Illustrated)