REUTERS

Former Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali Has Died

Olympic gold medalist and boxing legend Muhammad Ali has died, according to NBC.

The Louisville native was hospitalized this week in Arizona with a respiratory issue. On Thursday, a family spokesman said only a "brief" stay in the hospital would be necessary for the 74-year-old Ali.

The spokesman, Bob Gunnell, said in a statement,

He is being treated by his team of doctors and is in fair condition. A brief hospital stay is expected. At this time, the Muhammad Ali family respectfully requests privacy.

On Friday, however, an AP report cited sources who spoke separately, describing Ali's condition as "concerning."

Now, the worst fears have been confirmed.

Gunnell said in an additional statement,

After a 32-year battle with Parkinson's disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74. The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died this evening.

Ali was born Cassius Clay in 1942. At 18 years of age, he won a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. A month after the games, he made his professional boxing debut.

Ali began his career with an undefeated record of 29-0. After 20 wins and a win over Sonny Liston, he changed his name following a conversion to Islam.

His run of consecutive victories was only interrupted after a refusal to take part in the Vietnam War. Ali finished his career in 1981, with a record 56 wins and 5 losses.

Citations: AP sources: Ali's hospital stay could pose serious issues (Associated Press via Yahoo), Boxing great Muhammad Ali in hospital, spokesman says (ESPN)