By Staff

Muhammad Ali, a three-time world heavyweight boxing champion and cultural icon, died at age 74 after a brief hospitalization, a spokesman confirmed early Saturday, according to CBS News.

As news of his death circulated, the world was quick to pay tribute on social media.

A number of musicians took to Twitter to pay their respect, including Usher, Tom Morello and Paul McCartney (who shared an iconic photo of the Beatles with the champ). McCartney said, via his website, that “Besides being the greatest boxer, he was a beautiful, gentle man with a great sense of humour who would often pull a pack of cards out of his pocket, no matter how posh the occasion, and do a card trick for you. The world has lost a truly great man.”

As McCartney said, Ali was more than just a boxer; although he was a three time champion of the world, he also transcended his sport. Muhammad Ali was a pop culture phenomenon who brought a form of poetry to the boxing ring: his interviews were as lyrical as some of the best popular music. His “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” line has become part of the pop culture lexicon.

He was also a political radical. Ali was a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, saying that fighting was against his religion. He was arrested and stripped of both his boxing license and his heavyweight title.

“Muhammad Ali’s funeral will take place in his hometown of Louisville, KY,” spokesman Bob Gunnell said in a statement. “The Ali family would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers, and support and asks for privacy at this time.”


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