Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather were among the famous faces and former fighters to pay tribute to boxing legend Muhammed Ali after the three-time heavyweight champion passed away at the age of 74.
Respiratory problems complicated by a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, saw Ali pass away early on Saturday morning in Arizona after being taken to hospital late on Friday evening.
Tributes from sporting and global figures continued to pour in for the man dubbed The Greatest, who was recognised not just for his achievements in the ring, but his larger-than-life personality and strong beliefs that transcended beyond the ropes and helped inspire millions.
Mike Tyson wrote about how ‘God came for his champion’ as Muhammad Ali sadly passed away
Mike Tyson (right) pictured shaking hands with boxing legend Muhammad Ali (left) previously
Former undisputed champion Mike Tyson, who took over the mantle from Ali in the late 80’s and revived the heavyweight division, wrote on Twitter: ‘God came for his champion. So long great one.’
Recently retired Floyd Mayweather, who goes by the acronym TBE (the best ever) after ending his career unbeaten, was another boxer to post a heartfelt message on social media.
Writing on Instagram, Mayweather thanked Ali not just for his efforts in the squared circle, but his cultural standing during a difficult era.Today my heart goes out to a pioneer, a true legend, and a hero by all means! Not a day went by entering the gym that I didn’t think of you.
‘Your charisma, your charm and above all, your class are all of the elements that will be greatly missed by myself and the world. You are someone that inspired me greatly throughout my boxing journey and words cannot express how great you were as a person!
‘Thank you for everything you’ve done for Black America, in the world of sports & entertainment and for the legacy you leave behind! My sincerest condolences to the Ali family!’
Floyd Mayweather wrote this on Instagram as he paid tribute to the great Ali on Saturday morning
Brazilian legend and three-time World Cup winner Pele, who is widely considered the greatest footballer ever, met Ali on numerous occasions during their sporting heydays and remained close over the years.
Pele wrote: ‘The sporting universe has just suffered a big loss. Muhammad Ali was my friend, my idol, my hero. We spent many moments together and always kept a good connection throughout the years. The sadness is overwhelming. I wish him peace with God. And I send love and strength to his family.’
Pele embraces Muhammed Ali during a New York Cosmos match back in 1977
US President Barack Obama reacted to the news of Ali passing and said he will always be the champion along with a snap from inside his office.
He said: ‘This is the Muhammad Ali who continues to inspire us — the man who believed real success comes when we rise after we fall; who has shown us that through undying faith and steadfast love, each of us can make this world a better place. He will always be the champ.’
President Obama shared this photo from inside an office and the famous Ali-Liston image adorns his wall
Legendary chat show host Michael Parkinson, who had Ali on his show no less than four times said: ‘He was the only person other than Billy Connolly that put two million on the figures,’ Parkinson told BBC Five Live.
‘He was not a man without flaws. You have to consider those. But if you wanted to concentrate on what was attractive about him I could talk forever.
Parkinson, speaking of their first meeting, said: ‘I could not believe how beautiful he was. He was an extraordinary looking man. He was graceful and all those things and, of course, he was as funny as hell.
‘It’s not often, given the job I had, that I was allowed to be gob-smacked, but he did gob-smack me as he walked across the floor. I’d never seen a more graceful and beautiful man. He was extraordinary.
‘He was God’s gift to someone like myself, starting on a talk show,’ he said.
Legendary chat show host Michael Parkinson spoke to the boxing legend on his programme on four occasions
George Foreman, who took Ali on in one of his most famous fights the Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) back in 1974, said his former foe was ‘something special’.
‘Muhammad Ali made you love him,’ Foreman told BBC Five Live. ‘Beauty is how you would describe him. Muhammad Ali was what I call beautiful.’
IBF world heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua tweeted a photograph of himself and Ali wearing similar black suits and sunglasses, captioned with: ‘You’ve inspired the next generation in many different ways! Legacy lives on.’
George Foreman tweeted this about the boxing legend following the sad news on Saturday morning
Ali and George Foreman attend the 69th Annual Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles in March 1997
Anthony Joshua tweeted this photograph showing similarities between himself and the inspirational Ali
Chris Eubank – the former middleweight champion – speaking on Sky Sports News, said: ‘I always had it in my mind about his flair. That vibrancy and that electricity inspired me. I wanted to be the maverick that he was. I effectively stood on the shoulders of a giant to make a little bit of noise myself. I’m a by-product of Muhammad Ali.
Chris Eubank spoke to Sky Sports and said he was a by-product of Muhammed Ali and he would celebrate him
‘Who can do what he did? Who has the courage to stand out and be different and distinctive? I’m a living tribute to him. I try to project everything that he did. I’m not mourning. I’m celebrating him.’
British boxer Amir Khan, who recently failed in his attempt to step up to middleweight when he suffered a knock-out loss to Saul Alvarez, tweeted: ‘Our Prayers and thoughts are with Muhammad Ali and his family.’
He added: ‘It is extremely sad to witness the passing of boxing’s greatest fighter and icon Muhammad Ali.
‘I would like to send my deepest condolences and thoughts to his family at this time.
‘No fighter or sportsman will ever reach the level of Muhammad Ali, whose name will continue to echo through the ages.
‘Inspiring, charismatic, a true legend – Ali will never be forgotten.
‘Having the chance to meet the great man will be a memory and privilege I will always hold dear to me – an incredible human being, fighter and role model.
‘Thank you Muhammad for inspiring us all.’
Two-time champion Amir Khan shared a picture of him and Ali striking their trademark clenched fist pose
Khan (second right) poses with fans in Pakistan on Saturday as he paid tribute to Ali
Former world champion Ricky Hatton wrote: ‘Woke up to the sad news @MuhammadAli has passed away. No more suffering for you now champ. R.I.P… It Was an honour to have met you. #Greatest.’
In an Instagram post, former England captain and Manchester United midfielder David Beckham wrote: ‘The greatest there will ever… the biggest and the best… Rest in Peace.’
In a separate post, Beckham quoted Ali: ‘Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.’
Manny Pacquiao, the former eight-weight world champion, now a politician in his native Philippines , said in a statement: ‘We lost a giant today. Boxing benefited from Muhammad Ali’s many talents but not nearly as much as mankind benefited from his humanity.’
Ricky Hatton posted these photographs of him with the icon on Twitter when he visited Manchester
David Beckham posted this photograph of him meeting the boxer on his Instagram page
Manny Pacquiao, the only eight-weight world champion, posted this message on to his Twitter page
Boxing promoter Frank Warren told Sky News: ‘Not just boxing but the world has lost an iconic figure.
‘He called himself The Greatest and if he wasn’t the greatest, he was certainly one of the greatest boxers of all time.
‘Not only that, he crossed over to the general mainstream public. He became bigger than sport and was probably one of the most recognisable people on the planet.
‘What he did for his own race, being a black American, he stood up against the war in Vietnam to the detriment of his career and his life. I think at the time he was out of the ring for three years and was sentenced to five years in prison, which he appealed. To do that shows how strong his belief was.
‘He probably paved the way for (Barack) Obama to be the president of America.’
Boxing promoter Frank Warren said the world had lost an iconic figure in Ali and he was one of the greatest
Controversial promoter Don King, who oversaw both legendary bouts The Rumble in the Jungle in 1974 and the Thrilla in Manila in 1975, was also renowned for his own flamboyant personality and has credited Ali with launching his career as a figurehead in the school of hard knocks.
‘Ali will never die,’ King told Fox News. ‘He was a fighter for the people and to become a champion of the people he demonstrated the type of character he was.
‘He had the fortitude, the inspiration, the motivation to stand up for what he believed in and to say what he means and mean what he said.
‘He brought me into the sport of boxing – my first fight was Muhammad Ali.
‘Nobody can really say how great Muhammad Ali was because for four years at the height of his career he was jeopardised by trials.’
Don King sits between Ali (right) and Joe Frazier for their famous Thriller in Manilla meeting in 1975
Muhammad Ali pictured after knocking George Foreman to the ground in the Rumble in the Jungle
Former undisputed heavyweight champion, Lennox Lewis paid tribute to Ali by changing his Twitter profile picture to one of the American and wrote: ‘A giant among men, Ali displayed a greatness in talent, courage & conviction, that most of us will EVER be able to truly comprehend.’
Retired featherweight Irish boxer Barry McGuigan, a huge fan favourite in Great Britain as he represented neutrality during a time in which Northern Ireland was divided, understood the influence and impact of Ali’s actions inside and outside of the ring.
Speaking to BBC, he described Ali as ‘a remarkable human being’.
‘He was hugely inspirational for me and many fighters all over the world. 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 a beautiful looking man, a beautiful looking individual and he had so much compassion.
‘He was the greatest sportsman there has ever been and we were very lucky that he chose boxing.’
Irish boxing hero Barry McGuigan praised Ali for his stance on refusing to fight in the Vietnam war
Evander Holyfield, the only four-time heavyweight champion said: ‘I’m glad to have known Ali because when I was a kid, at eight years old, I was told I would be like Ali.
‘To take it upon yourself and say “I’m the greatest”, you put yourself in a position for people to take pot shots at you. This is what Ali did. It’s amazing him becoming three-time heavyweight champion of the world. At that time people thought “Who could beat three?”.
‘You have to be stronger to get up from a loss to go on and that’s what Ali proved to be.’
Frank Bruno was another to pay his respects to the man who came to define more than just boxing by posting a picture alongside the simple caption: ‘The man.’
Evander Holyfield – the only four-time heavyweight champion said he wanted to grow up to be like Ali
Frank Bruno posted this simple but touching image of him and Ali larking about during the early years of the aforementioned’s career
After realising his dream by capturing a world title in front of his beloved Merseyside supporters at Everton’s Goodison Park stadium, Tony Bellew, the new WBC crusierweight champion, offered some powerful words, to remember Ali.
He wrote: ‘RIP Muhammad greatest sporting icon of all time! A man who transcended boxing and put our sport on the map. His name will live FOREVER.’
Tiger Woods, the 14-time major winner, wrote: ‘You’ll always be The Greatest for more than just what you did in the ring. A champion to so many people in so many ways,’ he wrote.
The NBA’s all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, wrote: ‘Today we bow our heads at the loss of a man who did so much for America. Tomorrow we will raise our heads again remembering that his bravery, his outspokenness, and his sacrifice for the sake of his community and country lives on in the best part of each of us.’
Tony Bellew tweeted this message on Saturday morning as the world reacted to the sad news
Golf legend Tiger Woods said Ali was a champion to so many people in so many ways
NBA record points scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shared this signed picture of him and Ali
With the second longest reign as heavyweight champion and most successful title defences behind Joe Louis, Wladimir Klitschko had dominated the scene for over a decade and many historians and match-makers have always wondered how the speed and skill of Ali would fare against the strategic, methodical style of the Ukrainian giant.
Paying his respects, along with a picture of the pair on Instagram, Klitschko wrote: ‘RIP to the GOAT. A man of character, faith, dignity and professionalism. You’ll continue to inspire us to make this world a better place.’
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton tweeted: ‘Im gutted. R.I.P Champ. God bless and help his family get through this incredibly hard time.’
Wladimir Klitschko shared this picture of him and Ali and called him the greatest of all time
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton posted this black and white image and a tribute to Ali’s family
Oscar De La Hoya, who won ten world titles in six different weight classes and is now a successful promoter with his Golden Boy company, posted: ‘RIP @muhammadali, a legend who transcended sport and was a true champion for all #the greatest #MuhammadAli.’
Former England footballer and Match Of the Day presenter Gary Lineker tweeted: ‘The greatest has fought his final round. Muhammad Ali was the most magnificent athlete who transcended his sport.’
Boxing legend turned promoter Oscar De La Hoya shared this snap of him and Ali who added his own brand of humour to the picture
Former England international footballer Gary Lineker also took to Twitter to pay his respects to Ali