Muhammad Ali, Boxing Legend And Anti-War Icon, Dies At 74

Muhammad Ali, who was renowned as much for his wit and principles as his fighting prowess, died Friday night at age 74, a family spokesman said.

The boxing legend popularly known as “The Greatest” died at a hospital in Arizona, where he had been treated for respiratory issues. “After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74,” spokesman Bob Gunnell said in a statement. He said the funeral would be in Louisville, Kentucky, Ali’s hometown.

Ali was regarded as one of the most charismatic people of his generation. Through his athletic skills, braggadocio and defiance of the government, Ali piled up victories, fans and critics.

He was the first boxer to win the world heavyweight title three times, retiring in 1981 with a record of 56-5, with 37 knockouts. In 1999, he was named Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated and Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC. Time once referred to him as the “best-known person on the planet.”

But he also spent much of his illustrious career shadowed by controversy. As his fame grew, Ali joined the black separatist group Nation of Islam, changing his name from Cassius Clay. He was then forced to sit out several of the prime years of his career for refusing to join the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

After his boxing days ended, Ali immersed himself in philanthropy as he dealt with the onset and advance of Parkinson’s syndrome.

Muhammad Ali gets his gloves laced outside a boxing ring in Houston, Texas, in February 1967.

Born Cassius Clay Jr. on Jan. 17, 1942, in segregated Louisville, Kentucky, Ali was an unlikely candidate for global stardom. At age 12, his bicycle was stolen, and he told a local police officer that he planned to beat up the thief. The officer, Joe Martin, who also coached boxing, advised the young boy to learn how to fight first and took him under his wing.

With his stiff jab and agility, the youngster was a natural. He won more than 100 amateur bouts by most accounts, capturing several Golden Gloves championships. His crowning achievement as an amateur was winning gold at the 1960 Olympics in Rome at 18 years old, when he defeated Poland’s Zbigniew Pietrzykowski in the light heavyweight final.

He soon turned professional, backed by a collection of businessmen known as the Louisville Sponsoring Group. He first fought for the world title in 1964 against heavyweight champ Sonny Liston, ushering in an era in which Ali would dominate headlines.

Brash, handsome and outspoken, 22-year-old Ali was the polar opposite of Liston, an old-school brute who was reputedly tied to the mob. Ali taunted Liston, calling him the “big ugly bear.” In the pre-bout hype, Ali announced he would “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee,” a verse that became etched in pop culture. He also declared himself “the greatest,” which became his nickname.

It’s not bragging if you can back it up,” Ali said.

During the bout on Feb. 25, 1964 in Miami, he captured the world heavyweight title when Liston failed to answer the bell for the 7th round. It would be the last time Ali would fight as Cassius Clay. He joined the Nation of Islam and renamed himself shortly after the fight, prompting some to denounce him as a radical. (He would leave the group a decade later, converting to the more mainstream Sunni Islam.)

In a rematch on May 25, 1965, Ali knocked Liston out in the first round. He was photographed glowering over his fallen adversary in what’s become one of the most iconic images of Ali ever captured.

Muhammad Ali stands over fallen challenger Sonny Liston after dropping him with a short hard right to the jaw on May 25, 1965, in Lewiston, Maine.

In 1966, Ali refused induction into the military as the Vietnam War raged, saying he was a conscientious objector protected by his religious beliefs. While critics called him a draft dodger, Ali stood his ground, risking prison time and winnings.

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?” he said, according to the BBC. “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong,” he famously declared.

The U.S. Department of Justice battled him in court, and in 1967 Ali was convicted of refusing military service. He was suspended by the World Boxing Association and stripped of the WBA heavyweight boxing champion title; other organizations followed suit in denying Ali a license to fight.

In 1970, three and a half years after his suspension, Ali began fighting again when the City of Atlanta Athletic Commission granted him a license. The state of New York soon followed suit after a federal judge ruled Ali’s license application should not be denied on the grounds of his conviction because the organization did not deny other athletes for the same reason. The Supreme Court of the United States overturned Ali’s conviction on a technicality in 1971.

Despite losing years of his prime, Ali quickly adjusted. Two fights into his comeback, he laced up his gloves for the so-called “Fight of the Century” on March 8, 1971, against reigning champion Joe Frazier. Ali lost in a 15-round decision, but would avenge that defeat with victories over Frazier in 1974 and ’75, the latter match known as the “Thrilla in Manila.”

But it was a 1974 championship bout in Kinshasa, Zaire, against younger champ George Foreman, that solidified Ali’s reputation as a shrewd tactician. Ali adopted what he called a rope-a-dope, covering up at the rope to allow the more powerful Foreman to throw numerous punches without inflicting too much damage. In the eighth round, Ali attacked the fatigued Foreman and won the so-called “Rumble In The Jungle” by knockout.

Ali held the world heavyweight title until being upset by unheralded Leon Spinks in 1978. He regained the title for a third and final time in a rematch against Spinks that same year, but his skills were eroding and he announced his retirement from boxing in 1979. However, he returned the following year at age 38 to fight Larry Holmes, in an attempt to win a fourth world heavyweight boxing championship. Ali lost that fight and his next, against Trevor Berbick in December 1981. He retired permanently after the loss, on a unanimous 10-round decision.

In 1984, at age 42, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome, which shares symptoms with the degenerative neurological condition of the same name. Some believe Ali’s condition was brought on in part by the many blows his body had absorbed over the years.

Maybe my Parkinson’s is God’s way of reminding me what is important. It slowed me down and caused me to listen rather than talk,” he said, according to the BBC. “Actually, people pay more attention to me now because I don’t talk as much.”

Despite his health concerns, Ali remained an active philanthropist through his post-boxing days, supporting the Special Olympics, Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in Arizona and a museum bearing his name in Louisville.

“Many fans wanted to build a museum to acknowledge my achievements,” he said. “I wanted more than a building to house my memorabilia. I wanted a place that would inspire people to be the best that they could be at whatever they chose to do, and to encourage them to be respectful of one another.”

A trembling Ali made a surprise appearance at the 1996 centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, lighting the Olympic Cauldron during the Opening Ceremonies. The touching moment is considered one of the greatest in Olympics history, and also served as one of the few live televised memories of Ali for those too young to have seen him fight. Sixteen years later at the London Games, Ali made another surprise appearance for the Olympic flag presentation.

Ali also worked on numerous humanitarian missions while mingling with world leaders as a U.N. Messenger of Peace, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from then-President George W. Bush in 2005.

Former President Bill Clinton expressed admiration for the champion’s craft and determination in a 2012 interview.

“He made it part-theatre, part-dance and all power,” Clinton said. “He was unique. And then he risked it all to oppose the Vietnam War. It could have destroyed him. But it didn’t because people realized he was prepared to pay the price for his convictions.”

Ali saw much less of the spotlight in recent years, but re-emerged from time to time for public appearances.

In 2014, after claims that Ali was in dire health, he opened an Instagram account. He posted vintage photos and even a recent selfie. In December 2014 he appeared in Reno, Nevada, to watch his grandson in a high school football game. Later that month, he was briefly hospitalized with a urinary tract infection. He returned to the hospital for follow-up care on the infection in early 2015.

Ali is survived by his fourth wife, Lonnie. He had nine children: Laila Ali, who became a professional fighter; Rasheda Ali; Maryum Ali; Miya Ali; Hana Ali; Jamillah Ali; Khaliah Ali; Asaad Amin; and Muhammad Ali Jr.

Credit: Focus On Sport via Getty Images
Muhammad Ali poses for a portrait in his robe in 1964.

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Girl With A Prosthetic Leg Overjoyed To Get A Doll That Has One, Too

What a doll!

A video of a young girl named Emma Bennett, who has a prosthetic leg and received an American Girl doll with one as well, has gone viral. The clip features Emma bursting with joy after being surprised by custom-made doll that looks like her.

“She’s got a leg just like mine!” Emma can be seen saying in the video below.

“Thank you for making a doll like me!”

Emma receiving the doll.

Courtney Bennett, Emma’s mom, told KHOU her reaction to the experience is simply: “There are no words.”

Since the video was posted to Bennett’s Facebook page on June 1, it has received 10 million views and over 100,000 shares, compelling people to leave comments like “Omg! I’m balling like a baby,” and “I’m crying as much as [Emma] did.”

Emma, who lives in Cypress, Texas, was born with a rare birth defect and has worn a prosthetic limb for most of her life. Yet, this has never slowed her down. The sporty 10-year-old plays volleyball and soccer, swims and is a cheerleader. But when she’s not spiking or kicking a ball, Emma, like many girls enjoys collecting American Girl dolls and always longed for one that resembled her.

Her parents decided to did a little research, found “A Step Ahead Prosthetics,” a prosthetic company that also makes alternations to dolls so that they mirror kids who are missing limbs.

The couple sent a doll off to the company and a month later a modified doll arrived with a pink prosthetic — Emma’s favorite color.

Emma falling in love with the doll.

As for all the attention the video is getting, Emma’s mom, Courtney is truly grateful.

“I can say all day long that I try and put myself in Emma’s position, but one will never truly know what it must feel like to want a doll just like you,” she wrote on Facebook. “I knew she would love it, but never could have imagined how much she ‘truly needed it!’

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Watch this fireball light up Arizona’s night sky | Fox News

Streaking at a speed of about 40,200 mph, an asteroid zipped across the Arizona sky on Thursday morning, lighting up the night with a fireball, triggering sonic booms, and spurring calls to the police.

NASA says that the object was probably about five feet across, weighed a few tons, and was so bright that the cameras trained to the sky were whited out by the event.

The meteors last known location was about 22 miles over the Tonto National Forest, and likely left behind meteorites on the ground. When the sky lightened in the morning, a twisted smoke trail was visible.

Related: Fireball shoots across California night sky

There are no reports of any damage or injuriesjust a lot of light and few sonic booms, Bill Cooke, of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, said in a statement. If Doppler radar is any indication, there are almost certainly meteorites scattered on the ground north of Tucson.

The American Meteor Society said that it had received more than 340 reports of the fireball an event defined as a very bright meteor– which occurred just before 4 a.m. mountain time, including reports from Texas, California, and New Mexico.

CNN reported that a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department told them they had received over 60 calls after the event.

Related: How the Air Force’s ‘space fence’ will keep American satellites safe

NASA said that while this meteor was just about five feet across, the 2013 object that dramatically streaked across the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia was probably about 65 feet across and produced more than 800 times the amount of energy as this one.

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Muhammad Ali’s best quotes: ‘I’m so mean I make medicine sick’

The boxer wasnt known as the Louisville Lip for nothing; here are Alis sharpest verbal jabs and most withering putdowns

Poem describing what he would do before the first Sonny Liston fight, 1964
…now Clay swings with a right, what a beautiful swing
And raises the bear straight out of the ring;
Liston is rising and the ref wears a frown
For he cant start counting til Liston comes down;
Now Liston disappears from view, the crowd is getting frantic
But our radar stations have picked him up somewhere over the Atlantic;
Who would have thought when they came to the fight
That theyd witness the launching of a human satellite?
Yes the crowd did not dream when they laid down their money
That they would see a total eclipse of the Sonny.

Announcing his conversion to Islam after the first Liston fight
Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didnt choose it and I dont want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name it means beloved of God, and I insist people use it when people speak to me and of me.

During second Liston fight, 1965
Get up sucker and fight. Get up and fight.

During Ernie Terrell fight, 1967 (Terrell had refused to recognise his name change)
Whats my name, fool? Whats my name?

On refusing induction into the US armed services in 1967 during the Vietnam war
I aint got no quarrel with them Vietcong.

Muhammad Ali: a personality that transcended his sport

Before George Foreman fight, 1974
Im so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and got into bed before the room was dark.

Float like a butterfly sting like a bee his hands cant hit what his eyes cant see.

I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale;
Handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail;
Only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick;
Im so mean I make medicine sick.

During Foreman fight, 1974
That all you got, George? That all you got?

Before third Joe Frazier fight, 1975
It will be a killer and a chiller and a thriller when I get the gorilla in Manila.

Rumble in the Jungle: the war of words

The pre-fight quotes and allusions to all-time greatness in its aftermath have become almost as well known a part of the famous 1974 fight with George Foreman as the eight rounds themselves. Here are some of the most memorable utterances from those present:

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee his hands cant hit what his eyes cant see. Ali in the pre-fight build-up

I done something new for this fight. I wrestled with an alligator. I tussled with a whale. I handcuffed lightning, I thrown thunder in jail. Only last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick. Im so mean I make medicine sick. Ali in the pre-fight build-up

I wont kid you. When he went to the ropes, I felt sick. Going into the fight, I thought Muhammad would win, but not that way. trainer Angelo Dundee

Ali, booma ye! chant from spectators (meaning Ali, kill him).

That all you got, George? That all you got? Ali to Foreman during the fight.

He (Foreman) went over like a 6ft 60-year-old butler who has just heard tragic news Norman Mailer in his book, The Fight.

This is the most joyous scene ever seen in the history of boxing. commentator David Frost

Muhammad amazed me, Ill admit it. He out-thought me, he outfought me. That night, he was just the better man in the ring. Foreman

Now we know what happened which is why he was the greatest. It was beautiful. Dundee

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Army Reserve officer Deshauna Barber crowned Miss USA 2016

(CNN)An Army Reserve officer and IT analyst from the District of Columbia has been crowned Miss USA 2016 after mounting a strong defense of women in combat roles in the military.

Deshauna Barber, a 26-year-old from the nation’s capital, gave the answer during the interview section of the pageant in Las Vegas on Sunday.
When asked by judge Joe Zee whether the Pentagon’s decision to open up all combat roles to women had “put political correctness over our military’s ability to perform,” 1st Lt. Barber responded:
“As a woman in the United States Army, I think it was an amazing job by our government to allow women to integrate into every branch of the military.”
She continued: “We are just as tough as men. As a commander of my unit, I’m powerful, I am dedicated and it is important that we recognize that gender does not limit us in the United States.”

Hopes to spotlight veterans’ issues

The daughter of a retired Army master sergeant, Barber was commissioned as a quartermaster officer in 2011 and serves as a logistics commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit at Fort Meade, Maryland, according to her bio on the pageant’s website.
She works full-time as an IT analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce, it said.
Barber hopes to use her profile as Miss USA to highlight the health issues veterans face when they return from combat, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, her bio said.

Steve Harvey appears

Barber won the pageant ahead of first runner-up Chelsea Hardin, Miss Hawaii, and second runner-up Emanii Davis, Miss Georgia.
She will now go on to represent the United States in the Miss Universe pageant.
Miss USA organizers also addressed a prominent mishap from the December Miss Universe pageant, when host Steve Harvey flubbed the announcement of the winner and was widely ridiculed for it.
This time, he appeared in a video poking fun at his mistake.

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French Open: Novak Djokovic completes grand slam collection

Paris (CNN)The first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win four straight grand slams. The eighth man to complete the career grand slam. The first man to claim the first two majors in a calendar year since Jim Courier in 1992.

Novak Djokovic made plenty of history Sunday when he beat Andy Murray 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-4 in the French Open final.
Djokovic, especially in the past two seasons, never hid how desperately he wanted to win the world’s premier clay-court tournament. He had lost three finals, including last year to Stan Wawrinka.
When Murray sent a backhand into the net on a third match point, Djokovic fell to the court on his back. Finally the Coupe des Mousquetaires was his.




Novak Djokovic wins French Open


The crowd on Philippe Chatrier court roared their approval. Never before in a grand slam final had Djokovic been so loved, although he did get his share of support against Wawrinka 12 months ago.
“I felt that kind of support and love from the people around that allowed me to be sitting here with the trophy,” Djokovic told reporters. “That kind of support was very well present at the stadium today.”
He duly drew a heart into the clay with his racket, mirroring Gustavo Kuerten’s celebration when the Brazilian won the French Open in 2001, and dropped himself in the middle of it. Djokovic got the affable Kuerten’s approval, he said, while they were filming videos for a tournament partner.
The now 12-time grand slam champion won’t want to leave Paris.
Serena Williams — upset by Garbine Muguruza in Saturday’s women’s final — came within two matches of achieving the calendar-year grand slam in 2015 and given the Serb’s form, who would bet against him being in the same position in several months in New York?
“Whether or not I can reach a calendar slam, that’s still a possibility,” said Djokovic. “But I don’t think about it right now. Right now I just try to enjoy this experience of winning the trophy that I never won before.”
Murray fell to 2-8 in grand slam finals and 2-13 in his past 15 matches against his childhood friend, but he’ll depart Roland Garros in good enough spirits once the dust settles. No British man had made a French Open final since Bunny Austin in 1937.
Less than two weeks ago, Murray came within two points of losing in the first round to Radek Stepanek, and he was also stretched to five sets by Mathias Bourgue in the second round.




Djokovic’s mission to help Serbia’s children


And when he trailed in the first set, his supporters came to his aid, particularly when French chair umpire Damien Dumusois controversially awarded a point to Murray at 5-3, 15-0.
Murray blasted a powerful serve down the middle, which was called a fault. But Dumusois inspected the mark and ruled the ball was good. He then, instead of replaying the point, awarded it outright to Murray, saying Djokovic’s contact with the ball came after the call and so didn’t put him off.
The crowd jeered loudly, causing a slight delay.
Undaunted, Murray served the set out.

Turning point?

Djokovic was rattled, unsettled, tense. Hence the first game of the second proved pivotal.
Murray manufactured a break point only to see it dissipate.
“Unfortunately I couldn’t capitalize on that chance,” said Murray. “Maybe that would have changed things a little bit.”
What happened next? He was broken, contributing two double faults, one on break point.
The complexion of the affair changed for good.
As the set developed, a worrying sign for Murray: Djokovic got his teeth into Murray’s service games. Murray has always struggled with his first serve percentage and Sunday it was far too low against the game’s top returner, 50 %. In the last three sets, Djokovic won at least two points in each of Murray’s service games.
Djokovic’s first show of positive emotion came at 4-1 as he successfully chased a drop shot and replied with an angled forehand winner. A fist pump ensued. Another one surfaced on the next point when he broke with a crushing backhand down the line.
Murray’s frustration levels grew.
To begin the third game of the third, he muttered, “shut the **** up” to someone in the stands, likely someone in his box.
He must have become more annoyed when, facing a break point, he dumped an easy forehand volley into the net to fall behind 2-1.
Murray was hanging on. And at 1-3, 30-40, Djokovic flashed his tremendous court coverage by scrambling to a drop shot and cutely depositing a backhand winner.
The crowd broke out in song during the changeover.
It was becoming evident that Murray’s five extra hours on court during the fortnight were more significant than Djokovic playing four straight days due to the rain. He had little left physically. Kuerten noticed it.
“For me today it feels like his legs didn’t get going, after the second set,” Kuerten told reporters. “He couldn’t get the same (pace) of the balls and consistency he was doing at the beginning.”
Djokovic broke twice more in the fourth for 5-2.
Murray, however, got to 4-5 and when he registered the first point, the crowd went wild. Now they wanted more tennis. Suddenly, drama surfaced, a contrast to most of the previous 2 1/2 sets.
On his first two match points, Djokovic struck a double fault and backhand wide. The suspense heightened.
But on a third, and after three hours of play, Murray’s cross-court backhand found the net.
“I was close to making it very interesting, but he did well to finish it at the end,” said Murray.
The final played under cloudy skies after rain for most of the last week, seconds later, the sun finally came out in Paris. For tennis’ current shining light it was only fitting.




French Open: What makes Roland Garros so special


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