Muhammad Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family. He was 74.
UPDATE: A family spokesperson says that Ali died of septic shock "due to unspecified natural causes." They also said that Ali's funeral will be held Friday in Louisville, Kentucky at 2 p.m. President Bill Clinton, Billy Crystal and Bryant Gumbel are all expected to give eulogies.
Ali suffered for years from Parkinson's disease, which ravaged his body but could never dim his larger-than-life presence. He was hospitalized earlier this week.
A towering figure in his prime, he still traveled and made appearances in his later years despite being muted by the thousands of punches he took during his remarkable career.
He beat the invincible Sonny Liston, fought a string of thrilling fights with Joe Frazier and stopped George Foreman in the "Rumble in the Jungle" in Zaire. But he paid a terrible price for the estimated 29,000 punches he took to his head during a career that made him perhaps the most recognized person in the world.