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Sunday, June 5, 2016, Jaistha 22, 1423 BS, Shaban 28, 1437 Hijri

The passing of a legend
Published :Sunday, 5 June, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 17

The death of the sportsman Muhammad Ali at the age of seventy four brings an illustrious career to an end. The former boxing champion retired from the sport years ago. Yet the charisma associated with him, indeed the magic which has come to be part of his personality, have endeared him to successive generations not only in his country but all across the globe. He brought into boxing attributes one links with art or the many forms of it. His principle of floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee is today a statement that has been rendered iconic over time.
Muhammad Ali, as a study of his career will demonstrate, became much more than a sportsman in the years after he left the ring. He was called on by presidents to handle difficult circumstances abroad. Social causes, especially in the poorer regions of the world, claimed his attention. His star status helped, for there is hardly any village or town anywhere around the globe where he is not known. In his years as heavyweight champion or even in the depressing times when he lost his crown to some of his opponents, he was a personification of social causes. That was a natural but sad corollary to his earlier image as a fighter who felt no fear challenging established authority, especially if he felt the authority was being applied wrongly. In his early years as world heavyweight champion, his refusal to be drafted into the US military because of his opposition to the Vietnam War led to his suspension by the World Boxing Association, a penalty which lasted three years. Outside America, the act caused a stir, in the same way that his conversion to Islam under the influence of Elijah Muhammad and his Nation of Islam denomination soon after his victory over Sonny Liston in early 1964 had surprised many.
In a number of ways, Muhammad Ali was a sportsman who brought glamour, indeed stardom, to the world of boxing. His style in the ring was as much an innovation as it was a tactic aimed at confusing his rivals. He pranced around, all the while shouting out challenges and taunts to his increasingly exasperated and tired rival, before finally claiming victory. It was a style which quickly became fashionable, though the fashion was limited to him. But for all his boasts and his theatrics in the ring, Ali was careful not be crude or insulting. He never used words or phrases that could be considered humiliating for his opponents. That was a mark of the man.
The degree to which Muhammad Ali was held in deep respect by people was to be seen in the way his services in the promotion of varied causes  were solicited by presidents and by others. He was honoured by foreign heads of state and government. The young all across the world, especially in the underdeveloped parts of it, looked upon him as an icon, a symbol around which to shape their own aspirations.
We pay tribute to Muhammad Ali. Through his prowess in sports, through his shining personality, he caused sparks to light up our lives. Let his soul return to his Maker, in all its brilliance, in all its butterfly spirit.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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