King lauds Ali as 'a man for all seasons'


Muhammad Ali's former promoter Don King has hailed the late three-time world heavyweight champion as a "man for all seasons".

Ali passed away on Friday at the age of 74 following a lengthy battle against Parkinson's Disease, with septic shock named as the official cause of death.

Widely regarded as the greatest boxer of all time, Ali is also remembered for his humanitarian work and as a central figure in the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1960s.

He attracted both hate and admiration for his refusal to fight in the Vietnam War, which led to him being stripped of his title and sentenced to five years in prison - although his conviction was overturned on appeal.

Ali's three-year exile from the ring ended in 1970 and, although he lost a world title bout to Joe Frazier in 'The Fight of the Century', he avenged that loss in 1974 before going on to record a stunning upset of George Foreman in 'The Rumble in the Jungle' to recapture the WBC and WBA belts.

And it is the way Ali came back following his suspension that is King's abiding memory of Ali.

King told Omnisport: "The memory for me with Muhammad Ali, is the stand he took when they ostracized him and convicted him of draft-dodging and were slandering him, character-assassinating him, and he withstood it. Then - when the Supreme Court vindicated him - he turns around and goes 10 years later and knocks out George Foreman.

"It was total vindication, it was just as though the lapse of time didn't even count, it was like yesterday, today and tomorrow. Yesterday I lost the title to Joe Frazier, now today I won it back from George Foreman.

"He was a man for all seasons, everything he [did] - faith in people and the people's support - vindicated his action and saw him through.

"He was a promoter's dream because he would come up with all these slogans and write these poems and create the excitement of the event. He involved the people, he didn't do nothing without the people. Thank god he selected me to be his promoter.

"When they told me Ali had passed, I knew it only meant that his body - the house he lived in on earth - was closing down, his spirit never dies.

"Ali lives on, I'm celebrating his life and thanking god for blessing me with the honour of being a part of it. To share in that resistance and rejection of a system that makes wrong right and right wrong, that takes away people of colour's rights.

"[He] stood up to fight for people's rights, which enabled us all to be able to make the difference, when you stand up and be accountable and responsible for your actions and defy any of the opposition, with all the intimidation and fear to make you be subservient, to be submissive, to deal with what you know is wrong and take it like it's right, Ali didn't do that. I don't do that."