Mid-Michigan mourns death of Muhammad Ali - WNEM TV 5

Mid-Michigan mourns death of Muhammad Ali

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BAY CITY, MI (WNEM) -

Muhammad Ali, the man who many consider the greatest fighter of all time, died Friday at the age of 74.

Ali passed away at a hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was reportedly being treated for a respiratory problem earlier this week.

As the world mourns his death, many in Mid-Michigan remember Ali for what he was – a world class championship fighter and a civil rights icon.

"He was a great boxer. Great champion. People's champion,” said Bob Arsenault, manager of AAA in Bay City said.

Arsenault said Ali changed the world of boxing. He made it a nationally known sport.

"People just like the heavyweight division now more than ever. He made that heavyweight division popular, exciting. People took time off work to see him fight,” Arsenault said.

It's not just Arsenault dealing with the loss. Other boxing trainers in our area say Ali's death is absolutely devastating.

"I was really heartbroken. He paved the way for boxing. He's done so much for boxing," said Jessie Addison, a boxing trainer.

Ali wasn't just known for his skills in the ring.

Arsenault said he was a true people person and never turned away a fan.

"If you ever got to meet him, you'd have loved him. He loved kids. He always had time for people to stop and talk to them and he promoted boxing and sports in America well,” Arsenault said.

Ali's death is being felt across the country, including in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

A memorial was being built outside the Ali Center -- the spot where fans are paying their respects to the three-time heavyweight champion.  

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