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  Thursday, 17 January, 2002, 05:50 GMT
Lewis hails 'The Greatest'
Cassius Clay, as Muhammad Ali was then known, knocks down Sonny Liston
Ali beat Sonny Liston for his first world title
The boxing world salutes the legendary Muhammad Ali on his 60th birthday.

World heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis led the tributes to Muhammad Ali who celebrates his 60th birthday on Thursday.

Lewis was glowing in his praise for Ali, who he described as "The Greatest".

"Muhammad Ali has been a tremendous inspiration to me personally as well as other boxers, and to the world outside boxing.


Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson were great fighters but Ali was extra-special
Earnie Shavers, one of Ali's victims

"Happy 60th birthday Muhammad, and I wish you many more."

Audley Harrison said no-one could emulate Ali's feats.

"Muhammad Ali was 'The Greatest' and is someone to whom everybody looks up," said Harrison.

Former British heavyweight champion Brian London was knocked out in three rounds by Ali in August 1966 but he has fond memories of the man who beat him.

London said: "It wasn't a fight because he was just too good for me.

Muhammad Ali
Ali was a heavyweight with the speed of a lightweight

"He was the greatest - without question," is the verdict of another of Ali's victims, Earnie Shavers.

"He was a heavyweight who moved like a lightweight," added the man who went 15 rounds only to lose to Ali in a gruelling clash in New York in 1977.

"Although he was not a great puncher, he could knock you out because he'd hit you on the chin when you hadn't seen the punch coming.

Shavers continued: "I knew what he was doing 99% of the time but I just couldn't catch him.

"Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson were great fighters but Ali was extra-special. Just to go 15 rounds with him was an honour."


We wish long life, peace and contentment to the most recognisable public figure of the last 30 years
British Boxing Board of Control general secretary Simon Block

Ali's career spanned 20-years during which he won 56 fights and scored 37 knock-outs.

But the bare facts mask the man's achievements.

He was touched with brilliance in the ring and entertained like a showman.

He fought for his race and stood up to the draft.

Since he retired, he has travelled the world as an ambassador, despite suffering from Parkinson's disease.

In 1996 he exposed his ailments to the world, lighting the torch at the opening ceremony for the Atlanta Olympic Games.

And he was named Sportsman of the Century by BBC television viewers in 1999.

Muhammad Ali
Ali was skilled with a microphone as well as in the ring

He also received a similar award from US magazine Sports Illustrated.

The British Boxing Board of Control's general secretary, Simon Block, also congratulated Ali.

"All of us here are pleased to pay public tribute to 'The Greatest' on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

"Muhammad Ali has visited Britain many times over the years and is probably the best-loved overseas sportsman ever to have done so.

"We wish long life, peace and contentment to the most recognisable public figure of the last 30 years, whose standing is not diminished but increases with the passage of time."

BBC Sport Online reviews the life and career of Muhammad Ali at 60

Ali's birthday landmark

Special features

The great fights

PHOTO GALLERY

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Links to more Ali at 60 stories are at the foot of the page.


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