Boxing fraternity united in mourning The Greatest
Tributes poured in yesterday from all walks of life as the death of former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali touched the globe.
Don King, the promoter who staged many of Ali’s fights, including The Rumble in the Jungle, said: “It’s a sad day for life, man. I loved Muhammad Ali, he was my friend. Ali will never die. Like Martin Luther King, his spirit will live on. He stood for the world.’’
George Foreman, Ali’s friend and rival in the famous Rumble in the Jungle fight, 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.”
Floyd “Money” Mayweather (world champion boxer across five divisions): “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.”
Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (ex-world champion across six divisions): “We lost a giant today. Boxing benefited from Muhammad Ali’s talents, but not as much as mankind benefited from his humanity.”
Barry McGuigan (former world featherweight champion): “Everybody wanted to box because of him. He was just so amazing in every way. More than anything else it was how humble and how brilliantly charismatic he was. He was the greatest sportsman there has ever been and we were very lucky that he chose boxing.”
Bob Arum (boxing promoter): “He was the greatest fighter of all time but his boxing career is secondary to his contribution to the world. He’s the most transforming figure of my time, certainly. He did more to change race relations and the views of people than even Martin Luther King.”
Muditambi Ravele (Boxing SA chairperson): “The South African boxing community joins the world boxing fraternity and dips our banner in recognition and celebration of this life lived to the fullest.
“His decision to fight arguably the greatest fight in the history of boxing, in Zaire – now the Democratic Republic of Congo – was a homecoming of gigantic proportions and it sealed his connection to Africa.”
Stanley Christodoulou: (World Boxing Association [WBA] judge and referee): “I was privileged to officiate as a referee during his second heavyweight world title fight against Leon Spinks in New Orleans in 1978, where he won on points. He was a gentle giant and a great sportsperson who made boxing enjoyable with his antics inside the ring whenever he was in action.”
Dr Peter Ngatane (African Boxing Union board member and World Boxing Council representative):
“Ali changed the face of boxing in a profound way with his entertaining fighting style and skills. He also fought for human rights. He was a gift to boxing and his life needs to be celebrated.”
Brian Mitchell (former WBA junior lightweight champion): “As far as fame goes, he is the greatest athlete that has ever lived. He did much for boxing. I had the honour of meeting him when he was in Johannesburg in 1993.”
Dingaan “The Rose” Thobela (former World Boxing Organisation and International Boxing Federation lightweight; and World Boxing Council super middleweight titlist):
“Through his fighting style of moving around the ring, he taught us boxers that boxing is not about injuring or killing your opponent, but to entertain.
“He was the greatest sporting icon of all time who also stood for human rights.
“His life must be celebrated globally.”
SAD DAY Fight promoter Don King
ENTERTAINER Dingaan Bongane Thobela
THE VOICE Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather
GIFT TO LIFE Dr Peter Ngatane
HUMANITY Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao
HONOURED Brian Mitchell