Pacquiao mourns Muhammad Ali’s death: ‘We lost a giant today’
Rob Gillies (Philstar.com) - June 4, 2016 - 1:47pm

MANILA, Philippines – Manny Pacquiao on Saturday joined the rest of the world in mourning the death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, saying the world “lost a giant.”

“We lost a giant today,” the recently retired Pacquiao said in a statement.

Himself a philanthropist, Pacquiao stressed how Ali’s displayed greatness both inside and outside the boxing ring.

“Boxing benefitted from Muhammad Ali's talents but not nearly as much as mankind benefitted from his humanity,” added the former boxer, now a Philippine senator.

Ali died Saturday afternoon at age 74, according to a statement from the family. He was hospitalized in the Phoenix area with respiratory problems earlier this week, and his children had flown in from around the country.

With a wit as sharp as the punches he used to "whup" opponents, Ali dominated sports for two decades before time and Parkinson's disease, triggered by thousands of blows to the head, ravaged his magnificent body, muted his majestic voice and ended his storied career in 1981.

He won and defended the heavyweight championship in epic fights in exotic locations, spoke loudly on behalf of blacks, and famously refused to be drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War because of his Muslim beliefs.

Despite his debilitating illness, he traveled the world to rapturous receptions even after his once-bellowing voice was quieted and he was left to communicate with a wink or a weak smile.

"He was the greatest fighter of all time but his boxing career is secondary to his contribution to the world," promoter Bob Arum told the AP early Saturday. "He's the most transforming figure of my time certainly."

Revered by millions worldwide and reviled by millions more, Ali cut quite a figure, 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds in his prime. "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee," his cornermen exhorted, and he did just that in a way no heavyweight had ever fought before.

He fought in three different decades, finished with a record of 56-5 with 37 knockouts — 26 of those bouts promoted by Arum — and was the first man to win heavyweight titles three times.

He whipped the fearsome Sonny Liston twice, toppled the mighty George Foreman with the rope-a-dope in Zaire, and nearly fought to the death with Joe Frazier in the Philippines. Through it all, he was trailed by a colorful entourage who merely added to his growing legend.

"Rumble, young man, rumble," cornerman Bundini Brown would yell to him.

And rumble Ali did. He fought anyone who meant anything and made millions of dollars with his lightning-quick jab. His fights were so memorable that they had names — "Rumble in the Jungle" and "Thrilla in Manila."

But it was as much his antics — and his mouth — outside the ring that transformed the man born Cassius Clay into a household name as Muhammad Ali.

"I am the greatest," Ali thundered again and again.

A funeral will be held in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. The city plans a memorial service Saturday. – With report from Tim Dahlberg, AP

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