A boy who took up boxing after his bike was stolen, then excelled to the pinnacle of the boxing world as the world’s greatest boxing champion Muhammad Ali, has died at the age of 74.
In East Africa, Ali was idolized and would be remembered for his three ferocious fights with his fierce rival Joe Frazier in the 1970’s.
It was the time when radio & newspapers were the East Africans’ major and only sources for getting the news from the outside world.
Soon after Ali’s fights public would rush to the few prominent newsstands, along famous streets in major cities, such as Dar es salaam, Nairobi and Kampala for much awaited ‘SPECIAL’ supplementary issues of the fight, then young and old would gather in groups spending hours discussing the world-class bouts.
Muhammad Ali visited Kenya and Tanzania in the 80’s and other African countries as U.S envoy to convince African nations to boycott Moscow Olympics, after Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan.
After getting fairly cool reception from Kenya, Ali was shun out in Tanzania after former Tanzania president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere refused to meet with him.
But fans loved him and flocked to the airport, most of them over stepping over barricade to greet the Greatest, who first won the heavy weight title by beating Sonny Liston 1965.
1. Muhammad Ali with one of his many antics at Dar es salaam International Airport when he visited Tanzania in 1980.
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who died June 3, brought to Africa its first modern mega-sporting event, in what is known as ‘Rumble In The Jungle’ when Ali and George Foreman punched their way out in Kinshasa, Zaire – now known as Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1974.
Leaders across the continent have been paying tribute to the legendary boxer who inspired generations of Africans
President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya was first among the African leaders to pay tribute to the former 3 times heavyweight boxing champion.
African leaders, politicians and sports personality Tweets remembering Ali’s legacy
Muhammad Ali was not only a great boxer, I celebrate him as an inspiration and a peacemaker. He left footprints of true greatness on earth
— President of Kenya (@PresidentKE) June 4, 2016
— Ali Bongo Ondimba (@PresidentABO) June 4, 2016
Ali visiting Mandela, a boxer in his own right.
Soon after the anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela was released from prison, Ali visited South Africa to meet by then South African president and ANC leader Mandela. The ANC sent condolences to Ali’s family via Twitter as well.
— ANC (@MYANC) June 4, 2016
President Obama statement on passing of Muhammad Ali