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Ali flourished in the ring, becoming a top amateur and Olympic gold medalist. He made his professional debut in Louisville and arranged for a local children’s hospital to receive proceeds from the fight.

Lewis said Ali ranks as the greatest of heavyweights, and he said he was inspired by Ali’s fights.

“I used to get mad if I didn’t see the Ali shuffle,” Lewis said. “So I was always watching him, expecting some type of antic.”

Ali won the heavyweight title in 1964, defeating the heavily favored Sonny Liston. Soon after, Ali — who was raised in a Baptist family — announced his conversion to Islam and changed his name.

While in his prime, Ali was stripped of his heavyweight crown in 1967 for refusing to be drafted for military service during the Vietnam War. He cited his religious beliefs as the reason for his refusal.

His decision alienated Ali from many across the U.S. and resulted in a draft-evasion conviction. Ali found himself embroiled in a long legal fight that ended in 1971, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor.

Ali lost his first bid to regain the heavyweight crown when Frazier knocked him down and took a decision in the “Fight of the Century” at Madison Square Garden in 1971. Ali regained the heavyweight title in 1974, defeating Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle.” A year later, he outlasted Frazier in the epic “Thrilla in Manila” bout.

Last year, a frail Ali rose from his seat and clapped for his deceased rival at Frazier’s funeral.

Ali’s last title came in 1978 when he defeated Leon Spinks.

Ali retired from boxing in 1981 and devoted himself to social causes. He traveled the world on humanitarian missions. In 2005, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.