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Obama: "We lost an icon" with death of Ali

Friday, June 10, 2016 - 01:53

U.S. President Barack Obama praises boxing legend Muhammad Ali in a Facebook video tribute and says, ''I grew up having my identity shaped by what he accomplished.'' Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: U.S. President Barack Obama praised Ali on Thursday (June 9) in a Facebook live broadcast from the White House, showing off a copy of the book, "GOAT: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali" and a signed pair of boxing gloves gifted to him by Ali. "It's very rare where a figure captures the imagination of the entire world," Obama said. "He was one of a kind and in my book he will always be the greatest." Ali was due to be buried on Friday (June 10), after a funeral procession and before one final goodbye when thousands more will gather for an interfaith service. A Muslim funeral for Muhammad Ali on Thursday drew thousands of admirers to the boxer's hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, where mourners prayed over the body of a man who battled in the ring and sought peace outside it. An estimated 14,000 people, representing many races and creeds, attended the jenazah, or "funeral" in Arabic, where he was repeatedly feted as "the people's champion." Ali, a three-time heavyweight champion known for his showmanship, political activism and devotion to humanitarian causes, died on Friday of septic shock in an Arizona hospital. He was 74. Ali and his family planned his funeral for 10 years, making sure it would honor his Muslim faith while also adapting to the demands of Western media-driven culture. Luminaries including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and comedian Billy Crystal will attend Friday's event, at the KFC Yum Center. Others on hand to pay respects included U.S. civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and singer Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens. Ali rose to the top of the boxing world when black fighters were expected to be quiet and deferential. His braggadocio, even before he changed his name from Cassius Clay, startled white America. He further shocked Americans after he joined the Nation of Islam and adopted an Islamic name in 1964. In the 1970s, Ali converted to Sunni Islam, the largest Muslim denomination worldwide. Late in life he embraced Sufism, a mystical school of the faith. Ali's boast of being "the greatest of all time" and his ability to "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee" stoked controversy at home, while his criticism of the U.S. war in Vietnam earned him admiration in much of the developing world. With time, even his American critics grew scarce, and he achieved near mythical status as he lit the flame to open the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, by then muted and trembling from the Parkinson's disease that afflicted him over the final three decades of his life.

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Obama: "We lost an icon" with death of Ali

Friday, June 10, 2016 - 01:53