Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali breathed his last on June 3 in Phoenix hospital. Like George Harrison, lead Guitarist of the Beatles, heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali stood for liberation of Bangladesh during the war in 1971. Muhammad Ali was granted honorary citizenship of Bangladesh because of his steadfast support for our war of liberation.
Muhammad Ali along with wife Veronica visited Bangladesh at the invitation of late President Ziaur Rahman in February of 1978 and spent a week as state guest of Bangladesh government. He visited the largest mangrove forest of the world, the Sundarbans in Khulna, the largest natural sea beach of Cox's Bazar and the colourful tribal region of Chittagong Hill tracts. The Boxing Stadium at Dhaka was named after Muhammad Ali.
The boxing legend and heavyweight champion was honoured by President Jimmy Carter when the latter invited him to a dinner at the White House in 1977 and thereafter by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. Here President Ronald Reagan, who was actor, was seen punching Muhammad Ali while Muhammad Ali was smiling. President George Bush presented Muhammad Ali the presidential medal of freedom, highest civilian honour on November 14, 2005. President Bush called him "the greatest of all time and a man of peace."
Several documentaries and movies were made on the life story of Muhammad Ali. Ali even starred in his own biopic and appeared as a guest on TV shows such as Different strokes. Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted in the army to fight in Vietnam. He always spoke for truth and created a movement for the black community. Muhammad Ali was Olympic gold medalist as well. During his lifetime he became a philanthropist.
Muhammad Ali died peacefully despite his disease as reflected from discussion he held with his brother Rahman Ali who told ABC Television in an interview that Muhammad Ali asked him "not to cry for him". He said, "I am going to be with Allah and I made peace with Allah". His daughter Hana Ali said all of his organs failed but his heart would not stop beating. For thirty minutes his heart just kept beating.
Former President Bill Clinton attended interfaith service in Muhammad Ali's hometown of Louisville, Kentucky on June 3 to pay his respect. Being a Muslim, Muhammad Ali earned respect from all over the world and for the last three days after his death many people, old and young alike, paid tribute to him and electronic media in the United States projected death of Muhammad Ali with due respect. President Barack Obama, who is from a Muslim family of Kenya, sent his condolence message from the White House. He and his wife expressed their deep condolences to his family and wished that the greatest fighter of the world finally rest in peace.
Mohammad Amjad Hossain
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