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Boxing legend Muhammad Ali passes away at the age of 74

Ali will go down as one of the greatest boxers to ever live.

The Courier-Journal-USA TODAY Sports

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali has died at the age of 74, per NBC News. Ali was hospitalized with a respiratory issue on Thursday and on Friday was reportedly placed on life support, though spokesman Bob Gunnell suggested Ali was in "fair" condition shortly after the hospitalization.

Ali suffered from Parkinson's disease and had largely been out of the public eye in recent years. There were a couple notable hospital visits recently, the biggest being a severe January 2015 urinary tract infection that was originally diagnosed as pneumonia.

His Parkinson's had been known publicly for more than three decades, most famously noticed when he shook while lighting the Olympic torch in 1996. But the lighting itself was considered one of the most inspiring and emotional moments in sporting history.

Born Cassius Clay in 1942, Ali is considered by many to be the greatest boxer of all time and was also known for his social activism. He won an Olympic gold medal as a light-heavyweight and became the world heavyweight champion when he knocked out Sonny Liston in the seventh round in 1964. He changed his name to Muhammad Ali after converting to Islam during this stage of his life.

When he refused to be drafted into the armed forces during the Vietnam War, he was stripped of his title and denied a boxing license in every state. He was convicted in federal court of violating the draft laws and was sentenced to five years in prison. He stayed out of prison while he appealed the case, and did not leave the country like some did at the time, instead standing for his beliefs.

All the while, Ali missed about three years of his boxing career, three years that saw him go from age 25 to almost 29. That could accurately be described as his prime, though after his conviction was unanimously overturned in 1971, he returned to the world of boxing. After a fight with Oscar Bonavena, Ali faced Joe Frazier in what many called the Fight of the Century. He suffered his first professional loss, though he would ultimately get Frazier back and win the title again.

Ali finished his career with a 56-5 record, with a staggering 37 knockout victories.

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