Muhammad Ali: Boxing great dies aged 74
LOCAL boxers have been among the sportsmen and women paying tribute to boxing legend Muhammad Ali who has died at the age of 74.
The three-time world heavyweight champion, who had battled Parkinson's disease for 32 years, was admitted to hospital with a respiratory condition earlier in the week.
Belfast world champion Carl Frampton tweeted how he had been inspired by Ali.
"The Greatest" one of the most influential men that ever lived. RIP Muhammad Ali pic.twitter.com/E4cLvaq4fV— Carl Frampton MBE (@RealCFrampton) June 4, 2016
And former world champion Barry McGuigan also paid his respects via social media.
Today we lost the Greatest Sportsman that's ever lived #RIPMuhammadAli— Barry McGuigan (@ClonesCyclone) June 4, 2016
Ex-world champion Brian Magee recalled meeting his hero.
RIP The Greatest Boxer/Sportsman/Athlete of All Time— Brian Magee Fitness (@Brian_Magee) June 4, 2016
I remember as a Kid wanting to fight & be like Muhammad Ali pic.twitter.com/cL9fx4lcZG
Irish Olympic champion Katie Tayor was another fighter to speak of her sadness.
Ali family spokesman Bob Gunnell confirmed Ali's death in Phoenix, Arizona, on Friday evening local time.
Tributes quickly flooded in for Ali, born Cassius Clay, as news of his death broke.
George Foreman, Ali's friend and rival from the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" fight, said: "We were like one guy - part of me is gone."
He said he wanted Ali to be remembered as a "brave" humanitarian and not just a boxer.
He said: "Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest human beings I have ever met. No doubt he was one of the best people to have lived in this day and age.
"To put him as a boxer is an injustice."
Ali's former promoter Don King told CNN: "He's always been right there, Johnny on the spot, anything he could do for the benefit of mankind.
"Let us celebrate his life. This is not a time to mourn. This is a time to try to emanate the job he was doing and the burden he leaves behind for us to carry on, to remember that the people are the most important."
The funeral will take place in Ali's home town of Louisville, Kentucky.
A statement from the spokesman said the Ali family "would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and support" and asked for privacy.
Ali, hailed as "The Greatest", is survived by his fourth wife Lonnie - whom he married in 1986 - and multiple children, many of whom were reported to have flown to their father's bedside on Thursday and Friday.
He had been admitted to hospital most recently in early 2015 when he was treated for a severe urinary tract infection initially diagnosed as pneumonia.
At his last public appearances, he looked increasingly frail, 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 Parkinson's treatment.
Ali had suffered from Parkinson's for three decades and trembled badly while lighting the Olympic torch in 1996 in Atlanta.
Doctors say the Parkinson's was probably caused by the thousands of punches Ali took during a career in which he travelled the world for big fights.