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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.

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.

Canelo and Golovkin fight to controversial draw

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Gennady Golovkin retained his middleweight titles Saturday night, fighting to a draw with Canelo Alvarez in a brutal battle that ended with both fighters with their hands aloft in victory.

The middleweight showdown lived up to its hype as the two fighters traded huge punches and went after each other for 12 rounds. Neither fighter was down and neither appeared seriously hurt but both landed some huge punches to the head that had the crowd screaming in excitement.

Golovkin was the aggressor throughout and landed punches that had put other fighters to the canvas. But he couldn’t put Alvarez down, and the Mexican star more than stood his own in exchanges with Triple G, from Kazakhstan. The two were still brawling as the final seconds ticked down and the fight went to the scorecards.

One judge had Alvarez winning 118-110, a second had it 115-113 in Golovkin’s favor while the third had it 114-114. The Associated Press scored it 114-114.

Golovkin, who has never lost in 38 fights, retained his middleweight titles with the draw. But Alvarez showed that he could not only take Golovkin’s punches but land telling punches of his own.

A frenzied crowd of 22,358 at the T-Mobile Arena roared throughout the fight as the two middleweights put on the kind of show that boxing purists had anticipated. They brawled, used sharp jabs and counter-punched at times, with neither one willing to give the other much ground.

“Congratulations all my friends from Mexico,” Golovkin said. “I want a true fight. I want a big drama show.”

There was plenty of drama late in the fight as Alvarez seemed to rally and rocked Golovkin with uppercuts and big right hands. But just as soon as he landed he often took one back from the slugger so feared that most other fighter avoided him.

“I won seven-eight rounds easily,” Alvarez said.

It was a battle from the opening bell as Golovkin tried to walk Alvarez down but often found himself getting hit from sharp counter punches.

“Today, people give me draw. I focus on boxing,” Golovkin said. “Look my belts, I’m still champion. I’ve not lost.”

Golovkin predicted before the fight that the late rounds would resemble a street fight, and in a way they did. Both fighters were willing to trade, and both had no problems landing hard shots to the head.

Golovkin had chased Alvarez for nearly two years, trying to get the signature fight that would pay him millions and make him a pay-per-view draw on his own. Alvarez finally agreed after Golovkin looked vulnerable earlier this year against Daniel Jacobs in a decision win that stopped his knockout streak at 23 fights.