The world remembers 'The Greatest', Muhammad Ali

 Muhammad Ali throws a right at Joe Frazier in the 13th round in their title bout in Manila, Philippines 1975
Mark Staniforth

ICON. Beautiful. Hero. Legend. Funny. Inspirational.

The tributes have been pouring in from the sporting world and beyond following the death of Muhammad Ali at the age of 74.

The Greatest.

''Muhammad Ali made you love him,'' George Foreman, 67, told BBC Five Live.

"If you dislike him you wanted more than anything to see him again so you could dislike him again.

''Beauty is how you would describe him. Muhammad Ali was what I call beautiful.

''The man was the greatest. Forget about boxing, he was one of the greatest men to appear on television, to appear in the media.

''He was the greatest.''

US president Barack Obama, who was a small boy when Ali changed his name from Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr, said the boxer "shook up the world and the world is better for it".

He wrote: "Muhammad Ali was The Greatest. Period. If you just asked him, he'd tell you. He'd tell you he was the double greatest; that he'd 'handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail'.

"But what made The Champ the greatest - what truly separated him from everyone else - is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing.

"In my private study, just off the Oval Office, I keep a pair of his gloves on display, just under that iconic photograph of him - the young champ, just 22 years old, roaring like a lion over a fallen Sonny Liston.

"'I am America,' he once declared. 'I am the part you won't recognise. But get used to me - black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me'.

"That's the Ali I came to know as I came of age - not just as skilled a poet on the mic as he was a fighter in the ring, but a man who fought for what was right. A man who fought for us. He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn't.

"His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing. It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail.

"But Ali stood his ground. And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognise today."

Floyd Mayweather Jr told Fox News: "There will never be another Muhammad Ali. The black community all around the world, black people all around the world, needed him.

"He was the voice for us. He's the voice for me to be where I'm at today."

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's all-time leading scorer, wrote on Facebook: "Today we bow our heads at the loss of a man who did so much for America.

"Tomorrow we will raise our heads again remembering that his bravery, his outspokenness, and his sacrifice for the sake of his community and country lives on in the best part of each of us."

Don King, who promoted 'The Rumble in the Jungle' and the 'Thrilla in Manila', has credited Ali with launching his career in boxing.

"Ali will never die," King told Fox News. "He was a fighter for the people and to become a champion of the people he demonstrated the type of character he was.

"He had the fortitude, the inspiration, the motivation to stand up for what he believed in and to say what he means and mean what he said.

"He brought me into the sport of boxing - my first fight was Muhammad Ali

"Nobody can really say how great Muhammad Ali was because for four years at the height of his career he was jeopardised by trials."

Many in the UK will remember Ali's four appearances on Sir Michael Parkinson's chat show in the 1970s and 1980s.

"He was not a man without flaws," said Parkinson. "You have to consider those.

"But if you wanted to concentrate on what was attractive about him I could talk forever."

British boxer Amir Khan said: "It is extremely sad to witness the passing of boxing's greatest fighter and icon Muhammad Ali.

"I would like to send my deepest condolences and thoughts to his family at this time.

"No fighter or sportsman will ever reach the level of Muhammad Ali, whose name will continue to echo through the ages.

"Inspiring, charismatic, a true legend - Ali will never be forgotten.

"Having the chance to meet the great man will be a memory and privilege I will always hold dear to me - an incredible human being, fighter and role model.

"Thank you Muhammad for inspiring us all."

Nicola Adams, the world's first female boxing champion, added: "Prayers go out to boxing's greatest of all time and an inspiration to me and so many people."

Yorkshireman Richard Dunn, who lost to Ali in Hamburg when challenging for his WBA and WBC titles in May 1976, told Sky Sports News: "I think his legacy will last forever.

"When we've long gone they'll still be talking about him and it'll be worthwhile as well. He was such a fantastic champion.

"(If young boxers) watch his fights and see what a great athlete he was and they want to be the same then it's there for them. He's a good example. He was a hell of a fighter."

Three-time World Cup winner Pele posted on Instagram: "The sporting universe has just suffered a big loss. Muhammad Ali was my friend, my idol, my hero.

"We spent many moments together and always kept a good connection throughout the years. The sadness is overwhelming. I wish him peace with God. And I send love and strength to his family."

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