Following the death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali on Friday night, fellow boxers, athletes, and other sports figures took to social media to pay respects to the man who has been widely regarded as “The Greatest.” Around the country, athletes reacted to Muhammad Ali's death with beautiful tributes, words and, memories to one of the greatest boxers in sports history. Ali was 74.
Ali was loved by fans for more than his athletic skills, he was also admired for his values on religious freedom, racial justice, and politics, including his stand against the Vietnam war draft. Ali is remembered as a civil rights icon and was influential in many humanitarian causes. Once he traveled to Afghanistan to help struggling schools as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.
Ali rose to fame as the heavyweight boxing champion after he beat Sonny Liston in 1964 at just 22 years old. He held that title again in 1974 and 1978. He boxed in numerous historic matches throughout his career, including one fight with his rival Joe Frazier nicknamed the “Fight of the Century” at Madison Square Garden. Ali regained the champion title in a legendary fight — popularly known as “The Rumble in the Jungle” — with George Foreman by a knockout.
Ali was a favorite to many for his quick speed, grace, and athleticism in the ring, but even more for being fearless both inside and outside the world of sports.
"To the African-American community, he was a black man who faced overwhelming bigotry the way he faced every opponent in the ring: fearlessly," fellow athletic legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote in a tribute on Facebook. "Today we bow our heads at the loss of a man who did so much for America. "
Other athletes quickly took to social media to remember of the greatest champions of all time.
Ralph Ali, Frazier & Foreman we were 1 guy. A part of me slipped away, "The greatest piece" https://t.co/xVKOc9qtub— George Foreman (@GeorgeForeman) June 4, 2016
My heart is deeply saddened yet both appreciative and relieved that the greatest is now resting in the greatest place.— Roy Jones Jr. (@RealRoyJonesJr) June 4, 2016
Mohammad Ali was the first athlete I was truly inspired by. He was a true champion and forever a legend. RIP Muhammad Ali.— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) June 4, 2016
The boxing legend passed away late on Friday night. A family spokesman revealed on Saturday that Ali died from septic shock after having spent the past few days in the hospital for respiratory complications. Ali had suffered for three decades from Parkinson's disease. A funeral service is planned in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
The words written by these athletes speak volumes to how influential and powerful Ali was in the sports world and how he will be remembered by fellow athletes and fans around the world.
"Muhammad Ali was The Greatest. Period," a simple and true statement written by President Barack Obama in a media release on Saturday.