Lead Story Obituaries Professional Sports West Edition

Los Angeles mourns the death of Muhammad Ali

LOS ANGELES — Muhammad Ali is being remembered for his greatness outside the boxing ring as well as his greatness in the ring.

Ali, who went from the streets of Louisville, Kentucky, to being one of the most recognized people in the world, died Friday night at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, with family members at his bedside.

He was 74.

A floral wreath was placed next to Ali’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star Saturday morning.

Ali received the star in 2002 for live theater in recognition of his famous flair and poetry that boosted the popularity of boxing. The star was unveiled in connection with a CBS special honoring Ali’s 60th birthday.

Of the 2,582 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Ali’s is the only one above ground. It is on an exterior wall of the Hollywood & Highland complex.

“I don’t want my name on the ground, [and] people walkin’ on my name,” Ali said at his Walk of Fame ceremony.

A wreath was placed next to Muhammad Ali's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Saturday morning after he died Friday night. Ali's star is  on an exterior wallk of the Hollywood & Highland complex, not on the sidewalk like the other 2,581 stars. (Photo by Marlene Panoyan)
A wreath was placed next to Muhammad Ali’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Saturday morning after he died Friday night. Ali’s star is on an exterior wallk of the Hollywood & Highland complex, not on the sidewalk like the other 2,581 stars. (Photo by Marlene Panoyan)

Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson paid tribute to Ali’s role as a social justice fighter in brief remarks at the star.

“Ali will be remembered for his greatness in the ring, but he must be remembered for his even more pronounced greatness outside the ring,” Hutchinson said. “Ali spent much time in Los Angeles, even lived in the city for a time, and interacted with many schools and organizations and residents in the city.

Hutchinson and other civil rights activists called on Mayor Eric Garcetti and the L.A. City Council to declare an L.A. Muhammad Ali Tribute Day. The day would be a day to pay tribute to the towering contribution of Ali to the cause of racial and social justice in L.A. and the nation.

“His mission was always one of furthering the cause of social and racial justice,” Hutchinson said. “A day in his honor is a way to show our deep appreciation for his life and work.”

“Muhammad Ali wasn’t just the greatest boxer in history, he was a humanitarian, activist and a warrior for social justice who had the courage and conviction to stand up for his religious beliefs,” said , the director of Project Islamic HOPE. “Ali was one of the greatest and most influential men in history.”

On Saturday night, members of the local American Muslim community paid tribute to Ali with a special prayer and candlelight vigil at the Bilal Islamic Center, a mosque that Ali helped to build.

Ali first came to prominence in 1960 when he won a gold medal at the Rome Olympics, fighting under his birth name, Cassius Clay.

“As Olympians, our role is to inspire others to achieve their dreams, and no person has ever lived that role more than Muhammad Ali,” said four-time gold medal-winning swimmer Janet Evans, the vice chair and director of athlete relations of LA 2024, the group seeking to bring the 2024 Olympics to Los Angeles.

Evans called passing the Olympic torch to Ali to light the cauldron at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics “the defining moment of my career and a memory I will treasure forever, as much as any of the medals I won.”

Ali turned professional in 1960. The 13th fight of his professional career that saw him win the world heavyweight championship three times was at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, a fourth-round technical knockout of George Logan April 23, 1962.

Ali fought three more times in the Los Angeles area, the final time on Sept. 10, 1973, when he won a 12-round split decision over Ken Norton at the Forum, avenging the second defeat of his professional career.

Ali lived in Los Angeles during parts of the 1970s and 1980s.

“We have lost a legend who proved the human spirit knows no bounds,” Mayor Eric Garcetti wrote on Twitter. “Muhammad Ali you will never be forgotten.”

Ali first won the heavyweight championship on Feb. 25, 1964, when the heavily favored Sonny Liston did not answer the bell to start the seventh round at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

After the fight, he dropped what he called his “slave name” becoming Muhammad Ali and disclosing he became a member of the Nation of Islam.

Ali angered many Americans in 1967 by refusing induction into the U.S. Army, citing his religious beliefs. His boxing license was suspended, he was stripped of his title and convicted of draft evasion. The Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 1971.

Ali regained the title in 1974 with an eighth-round knockout of the previously undefeated and favored George Foreman in a bout in Zaire known as the “Rumble in the Jungle.”

After losing the title to Leon Spinks on a split decision in 1978, he regained it later that year when he defeated Spinks on a unanimous decision.

“Muhammad Ali was truly the greatest — an athlete who transcended sports to become a global icon,” Evans said. “He inspired me and millions of others around the world, to be the best version of ourselves.”