Muhammad Ali was an “angel” and a “God-sent blessing to this Earth”, his brother Rahman said as it was revealed he died from septic shock caused by “unspecified natural causes”.
Ali died surrounded by his family for the last hour of his life.
Reading a statement from Ali’s family, Bob Gunnell said: “Muhammad Ali was truly the people’s champion and the celebration will reflect his devotion to all races, religions, and backgrounds.
“Muhammad’s extraordinary boxing career only encompassed half of his life. The other half was committed to sharing a message of people and inclusion with the world.
One of his daughters, Hana Ali, said that his heart would not stop beating for 30 minutes after all his other organs failed.
Writing on Instagram, she said: “No one had ever seen anything like it.”
She said family members were hugging and kissing him, holding his hands and chanting an Islamic prayer while his heart kept beating and called it a “true testament to the strength of his spirit and will”.
Ali’s younger brother Rahman Ali, who was also a heavyweight boxer, said he was a “sweet, kind, nice” man who “was the world’s most famous person”.
He told the BBC: “There was nobody on this Earth more famous than Muhammad Ali, he was known in every country.
“God blessed him because he was such a sweet person. My mother and father were sweet, good people, and he came from good stock. He was a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful man, he will be missed.”
Mr Ali said his brother’s spirit, both inside and out of the ring, came from the upbringing their parents gave them, but said he was “one of a kind”, adding: “There will never be another Muhammad Ali.”
Speaking through tears, he said he remembered Ali “hugging me, making me laugh, kissing me”, and said he was so kind he would give you the shirt from his back.
He said: “He loved everybody, he had a good heart. So I cry from joy, and happiness.”
Asked how he wanted Ali to be remembered, he said: “I want Muhammad to be remembered as a humanitarian, a loving, kind, sweet, good man.”
Ali, widely considered to be the greatest in boxing history — as well as a key figure in America’s civil rights movement — is survived by his fourth wife Lonnie, whom he married in 1986, and nine children.
At his last public appearances he looked increasingly frail, including on April 9 when he wore sunglasses and was hunched over at the annual Celebrity Fight Night dinner in Phoenix, which raises funds for Parkinson’s treatment.
Ali had suffered from Parkinson’s for three decades, the extent of his illness brought to the world stage when he trembled badly while lighting the Olympic torch in 1996 in Atlanta.
Doctors say the Parkinson’s was probably caused by the thousands of punches Ali took during a career which saw him win 56 of his 61 bouts.
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