• 4 June 2016
May 6th 1966: Muhammad Ali in training for his title fight against Henry Cooper. copyright PRESS ASSOCIATIONImage copyright PA
The former heavyweight champion was widely regarded as the greatest boxer of all time

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali – one of the world’s greatest sporting figures – has died at the age of 74.

The former world heavyweight champion died late on Friday at a hospital in the US city of Phoenix, Arizona, having been admitted on Thursday.

He had been suffering from a respiratory illness, a condition that was complicated by Parkinson’s disease.

Ali’s funeral will take place in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, said his family.

Latest updates and tributes

Obituary: Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali in his own words

Latest tributes

Nick Bryant: How Ali changed his sport and country

Foreman: “One of the greatest human beings”

Tributes for the heavyweight great have been pouring in from across the world.

“Muhammad Ali shook up the world. And the world is better for it,” said US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.

Former President Bill Clinton – husband of Democratic frontrunner Hillary – said the boxer had been “courageous in the ring, inspiring to the young, compassionate to those in need, and strong and good-humoured in bearing the burden of his own health challenges”.

Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that Ali was “truly great champion and a wonderful guy. He will be missed by all!”

Muhammad Ali

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, 17 January 1942

61 fights over a professional career lasting 21 years

56 wins including 37 knockouts

  • 3 times crowned World Heavyweight Champion
  • 1 Light-heavyweight Olympic gold medal
  • 31 straight wins before being beaten by Joe Frazier

George Foreman, who lost his world title to Ali in the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” fight in Kinshasa in 1974, called him one of the greatest human beings he had ever met.

American civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson said Ali had been willing to sacrifice the crown and money for his principles when he refused to serve in the Vietnam war.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Ali shot to fame by winning light-heavyweight gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Nicknamed “The Greatest”, the American beat Sonny Liston in 1964 to win his first world title and became the first boxer to capture a world heavyweight title on three separate occasions.

He eventually retired in 1981, having won 56 of his 61 fights.

How great was he?

Muhammad Ali timeline

Online tributes to Ali

Crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC, Ali was noted for his pre- and post-fight talk and bold fight predictions just as much as his boxing skills inside the ring.

But he was also a civil rights campaigner and poet who transcended the bounds of sport, race and nationality.

Asked how he would like to be remembered, he once said: “As a man who never sold out his people. But if that’s too much, then just a good boxer.

“I won’t even mind if you don’t mention how pretty I was.”

Media captionArchive: Muhammad Ali

Ali turned professional immediately after the Rome Olympics and rose through the heavyweight ranks, delighting crowds with his showboating, shuffling feet and lightning reflexes.

British champion Henry Cooper came close to stopping Clay, as he was still known, when they met in a non-title bout in London in 1963.

Cooper floored the American with a left hook, but Clay picked himself up off the canvas and won the fight in the next round when a severe cut around Cooper’s left eye forced the Englishman to retire.

At the scene: Jessica Lussenhop, BBC News, Louisville, Kentucky

In this March 18, 2016 photo, the childhood home of Muhammad Ali is seen in Louisville, KentuckyImage copyright AP
Image caption Muhammad Ali’s childhood home opened as a museum last week

Many residents of Louisville, Kentucky, woke up on this hazy Saturday morning to the news: Muhammad Ali is dead.

“I wouldn’t have thought he’d go that quick,” says Kevin Ishmael, a saw operator who laid a bouquet of daffodils at the Muhammad Ali Center, an expansive museum on the waterfront in downtown Louisville.

The news of his death is on every local television station, and the front page of the local newspaper reads simply “The Greatest” over the iconic image of Ali standing victorious over Sonny Liston in 1965.

Flags at Louisville’s city hall will fly at half mast today and the mayor will deliver a memorial service there.

“I cried. I cried like a baby when I found out the news,” says Arnold Mathis, 39, who was on his way to lay a wreath and light a candle at the museum. “It’s so surreal. I know he’s dead, but it hasn’t really set in yet.”

Almost everyone has a personal story about Ali, whether it’s a favourite fight, a glance through a car window, or a trip to his boyhood home, which opened as a museum only last week, the interior recreated as if Ali were still living there as a precocious 12-year-old boy in the 1950s.

Dwight Smith, who was sweeping the empty downtown streets outside the hotel where he works, doesn’t remember the day Ali hoisted him up for photos – he was only a baby – but he uses them as a motivator to this day.

“A great man held me high,” he said. “Go for what you want. If you dream it, you can achieve it. That was one of his mottos.

“I’m just hoping we get a really nice statue of him.”

In February the following year, Clay stunned the boxing world by winning his first world heavyweight title at the age of 22.

He predicted he would beat Liston, who had never lost, but few believed he could do it.

Yet, after six stunning rounds, Liston quit on his stool, unable to cope with his brash, young opponent.

Media captionAli speaks to the BBC before the Rumble in the Jungle

At the time of his first fight with Liston, Clay was already involved with the Nation of Islam, a religious movement whose stated goals were to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African Americans in the United States.

But in contrast to the inclusive approach favoured by civil rights leaders like Dr Martin Luther King, the Nation of Islam called for separate black development and was treated by suspicion by the American public.

Ali eventually converted to Islam, ditching what he perceived was his “slave name” and becoming Cassius X and then Muhammad Ali.

Tributes to Ali

U.S. boxing great Muhammad Ali poses during the Crystal Award ceremony at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, in this January 28, 2006 file photo.Image copyright Reuters

“It’s a sad day for life, man. I loved Muhammad Ali, he was my friend. Ali will never die. Like Martin Luther King his spirit will live on, he stood for the world.” – Don King, who promoted many of Ali’s fights, including the Rumble in the Jungle

“Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest human beings I have ever met. No doubt he was one of the best people to have lived in this day and age.” – George Foreman, Ali’s friend and rival in the Rumble in the Jungle

“There will never be another Muhammad Ali. The black community all around the world, black people all around the world, needed him. He was the voice for us. He’s the voice for me to be where I’m at today.” – Floyd Mayweather, world champion boxer across five divisions

How world remembers Ali

World media: Muhammad Ali was unique

In 1967, Ali took the momentous decision of opposing the US war in Vietnam, a move that was widely criticised by his fellow Americans.

He refused to be drafted into the US military and was subsequently stripped of his world title and boxing licence. He would not fight again for nearly four years.

After his conviction for refusing the draft was overturned in 1971, Ali returned to the ring and fought in three of the most iconic contests in boxing history, helping restore his reputation with the public.

He was handed his first professional defeat by Joe Frazier in the “Fight of the Century” in New York on 8 March 1971, only to regain his title with an eighth-round knockout of George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle” in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) on 30 October 1974.

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali blows a kiss after receiving Sports Illustrateds 20th Century Sportsman of the Century Award in 1999Image copyright AP
Image caption Muhammad Ali was crowned Sportsman of the Century in 1999

Ali fought Frazier for a third and final time in the Philippines on 1 October 1975, coming out on top in the “Thrilla in Manila” when Frazier failed to emerge for the 15th and final round.

Six defences of his title followed before Ali lost on points to Leon Spinks in February 1978, although he regained the world title by the end of the year, avenging his defeat at the hands of the 1976 Olympic light-heavyweight champion.

Ali’s career ended with one-sided defeats by Larry Holmes in 1980 and Trevor Berbick in 1981, many thinking he should have retired long before.

He fought a total of 61 times as a professional, losing five times and winning 37 bouts by knockout.

Media captionMuhammad Ali lights Atlanta flame

Soon after retiring, rumours began to circulate about the state of Ali’s health. His speech had become slurred, he shuffled and he was often drowsy.

Parkinson’s Syndrome was eventually diagnosed but Ali continued to make public appearances, receiving warm welcomes wherever he travelled.

He lit the Olympic cauldron at the 1996 Games in Atlanta and carried the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony for the 2012 Games in London.

How Ali wanted people to remember him

“I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times, who was humorous and who treated everyone right.

“As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him…who stood up for his beliefs…who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love.

“And if all that’s too much, then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people. And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was.”



Slide Show

  1. A Look Back at the Greatest

  2. Muhammad Ali, a three-time heavyweight boxing champion, was among the most controversial and charismatic sports figures of the 20th century.
  3. A Look Back at the Greatest

  4. June 4, 2016



Phyllis Siegel, right kissed her wife, Connie Kopelov, after exchanging vows at the city clerk’s office in Manhattan in 2011. Credit Michael Appleton for The New York Times

Connie Kopelov, whose wedding to Phyllis Siegel in 2011 was the first legal same-sex marriage in New York City, died in Manhattan on Saturday. She was 90.

Her death was confirmed by Ms. Siegel, who said Ms. Kopelov had been in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Ms. Kopelov and Ms. Siegel had been partners for 23 years when they were married by the city clerk on July 24, 2011 — the same day that a state law took effect allowing same-sex couples to marry.

That morning, Ms. Kopelov, then 85, and Ms. Siegel, 76, were the first couple through the door of the marriage bureau, on Worth Street in Lower Manhattan.

The City Council speaker at the time, Christine C. Quinn, a lesbian and prominent gay rights activist, stood in attendance around 9 a.m. as the clerk, Michael McSweeney, said, “I now pronounce you married.”

Ms. Siegel held Ms. Kopelov’s head and kissed her on the left cheek. Ms. Kopelov smiled and held her marriage license aloft.

“I lost my breath,” Ms. Siegel said in March, recalling the moment. “It was just the most exciting loss of breath I’ve ever had. I just was so happy.”

From that day on, Ms. Siegel said, people would stop them on the street and congratulate them.

Constance Kopelov was born on April 14, 1926, in the industrial city of Kokomo, Ind., to Samuel and Bessie Kopelov.

She graduated from Northwestern University in 1947 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and later earned a master’s from Goddard College in Vermont in 1974.

In 1955 she moved from Chicago to New York City, where she held positions in union organizations, including the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and the Workers Defense League. Her work often focused on women’s issues, and she taught courses on women’s labor history at Cornell University and New York University.

“She was always fighting for an issue,” Ms. Siegel said. “She was always for the underdog.”

Besides her wife, Ms. Kopelov is survived by a sister, Deborah Dorosin.

Ms. Kopelov and Ms. Siegel met in the mid-1980s through their involvement with an advocacy group, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders.

New York State’s legalization of same-sex marriage followed a multiyear legislative battle that ended with the State Senate’s narrow approval of the Marriage Equality Act in June 2011.

The law took effect one month later, on a Sunday, after which hundreds of gay and lesbian couples turned up at town halls and city clerks’ offices across the state.

New York became the sixth and largest state to allow same-sex couples to wed, a milestone that energized gay-rights advocates as they pushed their campaign across the country. Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution guarantees all Americans, including same-sex couples, a right to marriage.

In 2012, just shy of their first wedding anniversary, Ms. Kopelov and Ms. Siegel were honored as grand marshals of New York City’s Gay Pride Parade, along with the singer Cyndi Lauper and Chris Salgardo, the president of the cosmetics company Kiehl’s. The couple were chauffeured down Fifth Avenue in a lime green convertible.




A protest in Cairo in 2009. Hedy Epstein, center, spent much of her life working for a broad range of social justice movements. Credit Amr Nabil/Associated Press

On Aug. 18, 2014, a crowd gathered outside the downtown St. Louis office of Jay Nixon, the governor of Missouri. The governor, responding to protests in Ferguson over the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, had just activated the National Guard, and the demonstrators outside his office were outraged at what they saw as heavy-handed tactics.

When the police ordered the protesters to leave, nine refused. And so it came to pass that Hedy Epstein, wearing a black T-shirt with the words “Stay Human” printed in white letters, was handcuffed, taken to a nearby substation and charged with “failure to disperse.”

She had turned 90 three days earlier.

“I really didn’t think about being arrested or doing anything like that,” Ms. Epstein told Newsweek after the confrontation in St. Louis. “I was just going to be somebody in the crowd. I guess maybe I was impulsive. Someone said, ‘Who is willing to be arrested if that happens?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m willing.’”

Ms. Epstein, a Holocaust survivor who spoke widely about the persecution of the Jews in Germany, and who spent most of her adult life working for a broad range of social justice movements, died on Thursday at her home in St. Louis. She was 91.

The cause was cancer, said Dianne Lee, a friend.

Ms. Epstein was born Hedwig Wachenheimer on Aug. 15, 1924, in Freiburg, Germany, and raised in nearby Kippenheim. Her father, Hugo, ran a dry-goods company founded by his grandfather. Her mother, the former Ella Eichel, was a homemaker.

After the Kristallnacht pogrom, Hedy was expelled from school. She returned home to see her house ransacked and her father being dragged away by the police. He spent four weeks in Dachau. After being released, he and his wife arranged for Hedy, their only child, to travel to England in 1939 on a Kindertransport train and ship.

“I was a terrible child,” Ms. Epstein told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2000. “I resisted going away and accused my parents of having found me on the doorstep, left by Gypsies, and now wanting to get rid of me. I recognized later that they were giving me life.”

She was an interview subject in the Academy Award-winning 2000 documentary “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport.”

Her parents were unable to find sponsors in the United States and, as secular, anti-Zionist Jews, had no desire to emigrate to Palestine. “They did not wish to live in a country that was run by Jews and for Jews only,” Ms. Epstein told The Jerusalem Post in 2014.

Both her parents died in Auschwitz, and nearly all her aunts, uncles and cousins perished in the camps. In a final postcard sent from a transit camp in southwestern France in 1942, her mother wrote that she was being sent east. She ended with, “Sending you a final goodbye.”

Hedy was raised by foster parents in London and left school at 16 to work in a munitions plant. In 1945, she returned to Germany, where she was a translator and researcher with the Allied War Crimes Tribunal at the Nuremberg “Doctors Trial.”

She immigrated to the United States in 1948 and began working for the New York Association for New Americans, an agency that brought Holocaust survivors to the United States. Two years later, feeling restless, she moved to St. Paul, a city she picked at random, where she worked on behalf of refugees.

She met and married Arnold Epstein, a physicist with Monsanto, which transferred him to St. Louis in 1969. He died in 1977. She is survived by their son, Howard, and two granddaughters.

In St. Louis, her passive opposition to the Vietnam War became active with the 1970 bombing campaign in Cambodia, a political awakening that found expression on several fronts. She began working with the local chapter of Freedom of Residence, a fair-housing organization, and served as the chapter’s executive director in the mid-1970s. She found work as a paralegal at Chackes & Hoare, a law firm specializing in employment discrimination law.

“I’m Jewish and I was born in Germany, so I think I can understand what it feels like to be African-American in this country,” she told Newsweek in 2014. “I was a child living under the Nazi regime, and I lived in a village, so everybody knew who I was and that I was Jewish. I remember feeling uncomfortable walking down the street, seeing people cross to the other side of the street, or seeing a Nazi I didn’t want to pass by.”

After the massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982, Ms. Epstein channeled her energies into the Palestinian cause. She helped found the St. Louis chapters of the Palestine Solidarity Committee and Jewish Voice for Peace.

Beginning in 2003, she traveled several times to the West Bank as a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement. In the West Bank village of Bil’in, near Ramallah, she was tear-gassed while demonstrating against the Israeli occupation and suffered damage to her hearing when sound bombs went off.

She became an impassioned supporter of the Free Gaza Movement and in 2011 was aboard the ship the Audacity of Hope in a flotilla attempting to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

“I can’t solve every problem — I probably can’t solve any problem, but I have to do whatever it is possible for me to do,” she told Amy Goodman of the radio program “Democracy Now!” in 2014. “I just cannot stand idly by, because if I did — anyone that stands idly by becomes complicit in what is going on.”

Her 1999 memoir, written in German and published in Germany, was titled “Erinnern Ist Nicht Genug” (“Remembering Is Not Enough”).

Ms. Epstein often addressed audiences at schools and community events about the Holocaust. Her talks concluded with an admonition: “Remember the past, don’t hate, don’t be a bystander.”

Correction: June 1, 2016
An obituary on Sunday about the political activist Hedy Epstein misstated part of the name of an organization for which she worked. It was Freedom of Residence, not Freedom of Resistance.SOURCE********************************************************


Judge Marcus D. Gordon, in 2005, at the arraignment for Edgar Ray Killen in the killing of three civil rights workers in 1964. Credit Kyle Carter/The Neshoba Democrat, via Associated Press

Judge Marcus D. Gordon, who presided over the belated trial of a hometown childhood acquaintance in the 1964 “Mississippi Burning” kidnapping and murder of three civil rights workers, and who meted out the maximum sentence, died on Thursday in Jackson, Miss. He was 84.

The state’s Administrative Office of the Courts announced his death. When he retired less than three months ago as Mississippi’s longest-serving circuit judge, he said he had neuropathy. Since then he had fallen and broken a hip.

In the Mississippi Burning trial — a reference to the title of the fictional 1988 film that was loosely based on the case — Edgar Ray Killen was convicted of manslaughter in 2005 by a racially mixed jury, exactly 41 years after the murders in Neshoba County, Miss., of Michael Schwerner of Pelham, N.Y.; James Chaney of Meridian, Miss.; and Andrew Goodman of Manhattan.

The three were members of the Congress of Racial Equality who had been participating in a “Freedom Summer” voter registration campaign in Mississippi. On June 21, 1964, they were arrested for speeding in Philadelphia, Miss., released and followed out of town. On Aug. 4, their bodies were found beneath an earthen dam. They had been shot dead. Mr. Schwerner and Mr. Goodman were white, and Mr. Chaney was black.

Mr. Killen, who was reputed to be a Ku Klux Klan leader at the time, was accused of orchestrating the killings.

A poster in 1964 for three men who were kidnapped and killed while in Mississippi to register black voters.

For Judge Gordon, the trial hit close to home.

Mr. Killen, a sawmill operator and part-time minister, had grown up just down the road from him. He had preached at the church that Judge Gordon’s parents attended and presided over their combined funerals just a year after the murders. (His parents died within a day of each other.)

Judge Gordon gave Mr. Killen the maximum sentence: 60 years in prison. Now 91, he is confined to the State Penitentiary at Parchman.

“It is my responsibility to make that decision, and I have done it,” Judge Gordon said at the conclusion of the trial, which was televised. “Each life has value. Each life is equally as valuable as the other life, and I have taken that into consideration.”

The trial reopened wounds. Nineteen defendants in the case had originally faced federal charges of conspiring to deprive the three men of their civil rights; seven were convicted in 1967.

The case was revived in 1989 after Jerry Mitchell, a court reporter for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., was inspired by the movie to begin looking into unpunished cases from the civil rights era. His dogged research, coupled with help from an Illinois high school teacher, Barry Bradford, and his students, uncovered evidence that prodded prosecutors to reopen the investigation.

In early 2005, Mr. Killen was charged with three counts of murder. The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter six months later. He was the only defendant convicted of state charges stemming from the crime.

At one point after Mr. Killen was arrested, Judge Gordon released him on bail, prompting black civil rights leaders to accuse of him of being too lenient. After the sentencing, Mr. Killen’s friends criticized Judge Gordon for not allowing Mr. Killen to serve his three 20-year sentences concurrently. Mr. Killen was 80 at the time.

“Law does not recognize the distinction of age,” the judge had said before imposing the sentence.

Judge Gordon said he viewed the crime as a stain on his state and county and their citizens. The crime was “not the act of Neshoba County,” he told The Los Angeles Times. “That was the act of a small, howling mob.”

Marcus Darnell Gordon was born on Oct. 22, 1931, in Union, Miss., the son of Benton Gordon, a barber, and Flossie Gordon, a factory worker.

He once recalled that the seeds of his legal career were planted in the sixth grade. In a mock trial, he represented a fellow student accused of cheating. His classmate was acquitted.

He won a sports scholarship to East Central Junior College (now East Central Community College) in Decatur, Miss., enlisted in the Air Force and served as a mechanic in the Korean War. He returned to earn a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Mississippi and graduated from its law school.

Mr. Gordon was elected district attorney in 1971. (He once prosecuted Mr. Killen for making a threatening telephone call.) He was appointed as judge in the Eighth Judicial District in 1977 by Gov. Cliff Finch, a Democrat elected two years earlier.

He is survived by his wife, the former Polly Matthews; three sons, Craig, Darin and Brian; a daughter, Teresa Parker; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Except for a few years in the late 1980s, when he returned to private practice, Judge Gordon served on the bench until he retired. He prided himself on his dispassionate approach to the job.

After Mr. Killen’s arrest, Judge Gordon said he intended to treat the case routinely, despite its infamy and his familiarity with the defendant.

“I accepted this case like any other,” he told The Clarion Ledger. “My responsibility is to provide a fair trial. The verdict of the jury will be the verdict of the jury.”



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