Boxing legend Muhammad Ali dies aged 74

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Ali later converted to Islam and ditched what he perceived was his slave name.

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali died at the age of 74 in a Phoenix, Arizona, hospital.

He was suffering from respiratory illness which was further complicated by Parkinson's disease. His family said the funeral will take place in Ali's hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

"After a 32-year battle with Parkinson's disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74. The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died this evening," family spokesman Bob Gunnell told NBC News,

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay on Jan. 17, 1942, to middle-class parents, Ali shot to fame by winning the light-heavyweight gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics. He cherished his medal, wearing it day and night for weeks.

But later he allegedly chucked the medal into a river after being denied to be served by a waitress at a soda fountain in Louisville because he was black.

Ali eventually converted to Islam and ditched what he perceived was his "slave name". He became Cassius X and then Muhammad Ali. In 1967, he took a crucial decision to oppose the US war in Vietnam. He was highly criticized by his fellow Americans for this step.

He denied to be drafted into the US military and left his world title and boxing licence. For nearly four years, he stopped fighting. But after a few years he returned to the ring and fought in three of the most iconic contests in boxing history. This helped him regain his reputation.

He retired in 1981, after one-sided defeats by Larry Holmes in 1980 and Trevor Berbick in 1981. Ali won 56 of his 61 fights.

Ali was nicknamed as The People's Champion and The Louisville Lip for his knack for talking up his own talents and to compete in order to become 'The Greatest'.

He was invited to light the Olympic cauldron at the 1996 Games in Atlanta and he carried the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony for the 2012 Games in London.