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Published: 11:46 | 4/6/16

Muhammad Ali dies at age of 74

Muhammad Ali, who has died at the age of 74. will be buried in his home town of Louisville.

The three-time world heavyweight champion, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease 32 years ago, was admitted to hospital this week with a respiratory disease and died on Friday night in Phoenix, Arizona.

"The Ali family would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers, and support and asks for privacy at this time," a family statement read.

Ali won gold at 1960 Rome Olympics, and had a record of 56 wins from 61 fights in his professional career until his retirement in 1981.

He was also renowned as a political campaigner, and was stripped of his world title for refusing to fight in the US war in Vietnam.

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins paid tribute to Ali's political work, and the “grace and beauty” he bought to the sport of boxing.

"The passing of Muhammad Ali will have been heard with the greatest sadness by Irish people of all generations," he said.

"Many will remember the wit, grace and beauty he brought to boxing and some will recall his visits to Ireland.

"All over the world people also flocked to hear him offer his view on the achievement of democracy and particularly equal rights when they were so strikingly missing in some of the richest countries of the world.

"He brought his message of freedom and respect for people of all races to all the continents of the world."

Former world boxing champion Barry McGuigan says Ali was the inspiration for his own career in the sport.

"Everybody wanted to box because of him," the Irishman told the BBC.

"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."

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