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.

Tyson, 54, to return for exhibition match against Jones Jr.

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CARSON, Calif. — Mike Tyson is coming back to boxing at age 54.

The former heavyweight champion will meet four-division champion Roy Jones Jr. in an eight-round exhibition match on Sept. 12 at Dignity Health Sports Park.

Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history when he won the title in 1986 at age 20 and for a time was the most feared fighter in boxing. But his career became littered with distractions and he hasn’t boxed since 2005 after losing his second straight fight.

He has occasionally teased a return with workout videos and it’s finally scheduled to happen.

Jones, 51, won titles in the middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight before moving up to win the heavyweight title in 2003, becoming the first former middleweight champion to do so in 106 years.

The event will air on pay-per-view and the social media music platform Triller. Further matches on the card and musical entertainment will be announced in the coming weeks.

Boxer Errol Spence in ICU after Ferrari crash in Dallas

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DALLAS — Welterweight boxing champion Errol Spence crashed a speeding Ferrari in Dallas early Thursday and was badly injured but is expected to survive, police said.

The crash happened just before 3 a.m., when Spence’s Ferrari crossed a median into oncoming traffic and flipped over several times, police said.

Spence was taken to a hospital, where he was placed in the intensive care unit. Police said they’re still investigating the cause of the crash, but they noted that the Ferrari was speeding at the time.

Last month, the former U.S. Olympian added the WBC welterweight title to his IBF strap with a thrilling split-decision victory over Shawn Porter in Los Angeles.

With his rangy athleticism and virtuosic skill, Spence (26-0) has captured fans with a series of crisp victories in recent years. He won the IBF title in 2017 by stopping Kell Brook in England, and he defended it three times, culminating in a one-sided thrashing of undersized Mikey Garcia in March.

His bout with the veteran brawler Porter (30-3-1) was Spence’s biggest test yet, and he emerged victorious from a fight that featured several wild exchanges of punches and had the Staples Center crowd of 16,702 on its feet throughout the 12th round, roaring for both fighters when they embraced after the final bell.