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Obama says Muhammad Ali shook up the world and left it better off

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STUART, Fla. (AP) President Barack Obama, who keeps a pair of boxing gloves worn by Muhammad Ali in his private study off the Oval Office, said Saturday that Ali “shook up the world and the world is better for it.”

Obama likened Ali, who died Friday, to other civil rights leaders of his era, and said the boxer stood with Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela in fighting for what was right. Ali defied the military draft at the height of the Vietnam War and lost 3 1/2 years from the prime of his career. He also joined the Black Muslims and changed his name from Cassius Clay. His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing, but he stood his ground, Obama noted.

“He wasn’t perfect, of course. For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved,” Obama said in a statement with first lady Michelle Obama. “But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes – maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves.”

The president keeps Ali’s gloves underneath a photograph of the young heavyweight champion standing over defeated Sonny Liston in 1964. Obama said he was too young to understand the brash fighter when that picture was taken. He said over time that he came to understand that Ali was more than a skilled fighter or “poet on the mic.” Rather, Ali was a man who “who fought for us,” Obama said.

“Muhammad Ali shook up the world. And the world is better for it. We are all better for it,” Obama said.

Obama said that after Ali’s boxing career ended, he became an even more “powerful force for peace and reconciliation around the world.” He said Ali visited sick children and those with disabilities and told them that they, too, could become the greatest.

And while Ali battled Parkinson’s disease later in life, it “couldn’t take the spark from his eyes,” Obama said.

Golovkin and Alvarez to meet in May 5 rematch

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Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez will meet in a May 5 rematch with the middleweight title on the line once again, promoters said Monday.

Still to be announced is the location, though Las Vegas is considered the front runner for the fight on Cinco de Mayo weekend.

Golovkin and Alvarez fought to a controversial 12-round draw in September, after which both fighters said they wanted a rematch. It took promoters months to negotiate the terms for what is expected to be one of the biggest pay-per-view fights of the year.

The two fighters have only one loss between them, with Golovkin 37-0-1 with 33 knockouts and Alvarez 49-1-2 with 34 knockouts.

Boxer LaMotta, immortalized in ‘Raging Bull,’ dies at 95

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MIAMI (AP) Jake LaMotta, the former middleweight champion whose life was depicted in the film “Raging Bull,” has died at the age of 95.

His fiancee, Denise Baker, says LaMotta died Tuesday at a Miami-area hospital from complications of pneumonia.

The Bronx Bull, as he was known in his fighting days, compiled an 83-19-4 record with 30 knockouts.

LaMotta fought Sugar Ray Robinson six times, handing Robinson his first defeat. He lost the middleweight title to him in what became known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

In his previous fight, LaMotta saved the championship in movie-script fashion against Laurent Dauthuille. Trailing badly, LaMotta knocked out the challenger with 13 seconds left.

LaMotta threw a fight against Billy Fox, which he admitted in testimony before a U.S. Senate committee. He said he was promised a shot at a title.

On June 16, 1949, he became middleweight champion when Marcel Cerdan couldn’t continue after the 10th round.

The 1980 film “Raging Bull” was based on LaMotta’s memoir. Actor Robert DeNiro won an Academy Award for it.