Indian stars pay tribute to Ali

Indian stars pay tribute to Ali

Tribute : A great personality inside and outside the ring, say Vijender and Mary Kom

Indian stars pay tribute to Ali

 From established stars like Vijender Singh and M C Mary Kom to the fast-rising Shiva Thapa, the Indian boxing fraternity was united in grief as it mourned the demise of the legendary Muhammad Ali, who passed away after a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.

“Muhammad Ali was a legend and a legend never dies. All that he did for the sport will never be forgotten. In fact his work even outside the ring has immortalised him. He did so much for so many,” Vijender told PTI, reacting to Ali’s death.

“It’s a huge, huge loss for boxing. I personally feel a sense of loss because he had inspired me and so many others like me. He will always be remembered for being a powerful boxer and an equally powerful personality. It’s a very sad day for the sport,” said Mary Kom, a five-time world champion.

Shiva, the lone Indian boxer to have qualified for the Rio Olympics thus far, said Ali would always be synonymous with boxing.

“It really saddens me that a huge legend is no more between us. But greats never die, they live on for all that they have done in their lifetime. He will always be alive in the hearts of people because he touched so many lives with all that he did. He may not be there in person anymore but his spirit will live on because every time someone would say boxing, the first name to come to mind would be Ali,” Shiva said.

Former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist and one of India’s most successful boxers, Akhil Kumar, also offered his tributes to the legend.

“You will be remembered as a Legend.... Truly a Hero for me and many others,” he tweeted. Ali’s appeal was not limited merely to the boxing fraternity.

Other sportsmen

Former Indian cricket captain Anil Kumble tweeted, “Greatest sportsman of all time! May his soul rest in peace.”

Former Olympic silver-medallist shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who is now a minister in the current government, also paid his tributes.

“Perhaps one of the greatest sportsman Muhammad Ali is no more. RIP,” he tweeted.
Tennis player Rohan Bopanna said, “Really really sad news about the passing away of Muhammad Ali, Absolute legend. #RIP MuhammadAli.”

Reacting to Ali’s death, Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar said he had always wished to meet the legendary pugilist.

“My hero since childhood. I always had a wish to meet you some day but now it will never happen. RIP “The Greatest”,” Tendulkar tweeted.

Also paying tributes was chess wizard Viswanathan Anand.
“Sportsperson chase excellence with ambition. We look up to a few who tell us keep going. One such name is #MuhammadAli ...Float like a butterfly sting like a bee would never be the same. R.I.P. The great #MuhammadAli,” he wrote on his Twitter page.

Indian visit

Indians had an opportunity to see Ali in action in 1980 when he visited the country for exhibition bouts titled ‘Greatest to Greatest’, the reference being to him and to Indira Gandhi who had just returned to power after a humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections after the emergency.

Ali played exhibition bouts in New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai when he visited the country at the invitation of London-based NRI industrialist Lord Swaraj Paul.

Even more thrilled were the boxers who got a chance to interact and exchange a few blows with the American legend, who was revered not just for his skills inside the ring but also his bold stand on various  issues pertaining to civil rights.

Ali had a special connect with Kolkata as he spent three days here during the Christmas of 1990, mesmerising sports lovers with his wit and some magic tricks.

The three-time world heavyweight boxing champion had come on a special invitation from Mohammedan Sporting.

Former India football captain Shabbir Ali, who was the coach of Mohammedan Sporting, fondly remembers his meeting with the champion boxer, one of his most cherished moments.

“He’s the greatest sportsman of the century. I do not want to compare but he was something else. He was very soft spoken.

“I was really fortunate to have met him,” Shabbir reminisced.

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