Zou Shiming said he is deeply grieving over the passing of the legend Muhammad Ali © Getty Images
Zou Shiming said he is deeply grieving over the passing of the legend Muhammad Ali © Getty Images

Beijing: China’s two-time Olympic champion boxer Zou Shiming tearfully mourned the passing of Muhammad Ali, vowing to win a professional title to honour the legendary boxer. “I planned to go visit my idol Muhammad Ali after winning a professional bout. But now, I can only pray he is at peace in heaven, and free from illness and pain,” the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion posted on his Twitter-like Weibo account, according to Xinhua. In a tearful interview, Zou said: “I am deeply grieving over the passing of the legend Ali, for whom I have great respect. He has been a great inspiration to me.” The 74-year-old sports icon, who had battled Parkinson’s disease for decades, died Friday in a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.

Ali, known as Cassius Clay before he converted to Islam, began boxing training at 12 years old and won the world heavyweight championship at 22 in 1964. He won the title again in 1974 and 1978. After hearing Ali was hospitalized “in grave condition” earlier in the day, Zou wrote on his Weibo account: “God bless him. Hope he will regain health.” After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali passed away at the age of 74,” family spokesman Bob Gunnell had said in a statement in the morning on Friday, Xinhua news agency had reported.

Ali was hospitalised for a respiratory problem on June 2. One of the greatest boxers in the history, Ali retired in 1981 and soon found signs of sluggishness and neurological damage. He thereafter received treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Ali, known as Cassius Clay before he converted to Islam, began boxing training at the age of 12 years. He won the World heavyweight championship at the age of 22 in 1964. He again won the title again in 1974 and 1978.