After defeating Sonny Liston in 1964, an ecstatic Muhammad Ali declared: "I shocked the world."
Thrusting his arms into the air, he treated the victory as if it had been a knockout. Never mind that Liston denied him that honor by refusing to step into the ring for a seventh round. Ali's win gave America a first glimpse of the young man who for the next 50 years would never stop shocking the world.
Ali, the brash and ebullient heavyweight boxer whose brilliance in the ring and bravado outside it made his face one of the most recognizable in the world has died, according to a statement from his family. He was 74. Ali had suffered from Parkinson's syndrome for many years.
If Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson opened the door for black athletes, Ali stormed through, making sure it would never close again. His celebrity transcended race and sports, for as dexterous as he was in the ring, he was equally skilled at challenging the status quo. …