Olympic silver medalist and former world champion John ‘the Beast’ Mugabi has paid his last respects to the late Muhammad Ali after he passed on, Friday.
Ali died at the age of 74 following a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. The Louisville native was a controversial figure during his fighting career and a sympathetic one following his diagnosis.
Considered by many to be the best boxer in history, Ali proclaimed himself as the “Greatest of all time” in 1964 and the title stuck. Although defeated five times in his career, he is often referred to as “The Greatest” and is at the top of most boxing rankings.
The Greatest of all time; Muhammad Ali
Former professional boxer who held the WBC light-middleweight title and challenged twice for world titles at middleweight Mugabi joined the rest of the World in recognizing Ali’s contribution to sport and how he inspired many.
“I have never seen a boxer as determined as Ali,” he told Daily Monitor. “He did not fear any opponent, even those who were ranked superior to him.
“I have watched many of his fights and I believe he was such a gift from heaven and I tried to follow his style.
“As I went to the ring to face Haggler (Marvin) in that hell of a fight, he patted my back and he told me ‘Come on John, you are not here by surprise, you are strong and good enough, you’ve gotta show it… “
“His words always echoed in my mind, and whenever I felt exhausted, I fought on.”
An aging Ali lost three of his last four fights before retiring in 1981. A loss to Larry Holmes in 1980 was thought to be the cause of his Parkinson’s Disease, of which he was diagnosed in 1984.
Following his career, Ali devoted his life to civil rights causes and philanthropy. He was a star away from boxing. He appeared in multiple TV shows and inspired several films. Will Smith received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Ali in the 2001 movie, “Ali.”