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Washington: Boxing legend Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74 at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.Ali was fighting respiratory issues which were complicated by the Parkinson’s disease that he was diagnosed with in the 1980’s.
“After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74,” spokesman Bob Gunnell said.
An iconic figure who was at one point arguably the most recognised person in the world, Ali lived quietly in the Phoenix area with his fourth wife, Lonnie, who he married in 1986.
Ali was hospitalised several times in recent years, most recently in early 2015 when he was treated for a severe urinary tract infection initially diagnosed as pneumonia.
He looked increasingly frail in public appearances in recent years, including on April 9 when he wore sunglasses and was hunched over at the annual Celebrity Fight Night dinner in Phoenix, which raises funds for treatment of Parkinson’s.
His last formal public appearance before that was in October when he appeared at the Sports Illustrated Tribute to Muhammad Ali at The Muhammad Ali Center in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, along with former opponents George Foreman and Larry Holmes.
Ali has suffered from Parkinson’s for three decades, most famously trembling badly while lighting the Olympic torch in 1996 in Atlanta.
Despite the disease he kept up a busy appearance schedule until recently, though he has not communicated verbally in public for years.
Ali, born in Louisville, Kentucky, as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., changed his name in 1964 after his conversion to Islam.
At the height of his career, Ali was known for his dancing feet and quick fists and his ability, as he put it, to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
Nicknamed “The Greatest,” he retired from boxing in 1981 with a 56-5 record.
(With agency inputs)