So Long to ‘The Greatest’: Locals Remember Muhammad Ali

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DALLAS -- "I shook up the world! I shook up the world!”

In February 1964, Cassius Clay did shake up the world with his knockout to win the heavyweight championship for the first time.

Friday night, Muhammad Ali shook us all again when he died at the age of 74 from a respiratory condition.

"It hit me hard because he was my hero,” said Dallas resident Sultan Ali.

"'The Greatest' is gone,” echoed 2-time world champion, Jesus Chavez.

Even President Obama reacted on Twitter, saying in part, “He shook up the world, and the world’s better for it.”

The brash boxer changed the sport when he floated into the limelight, taking us from the days of slow plodding pugilists to freak athlete fighters with swagger to spare.

"The way he carried himself, that rubbed off on me because it made me a confident person just watching how confident he was,” said Maple Ave Boxing Club pro boxer Carlos Adame.

He wasn’t one to avoid conflict, even facing five years in jail and losing his title belt for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War.

"Yes, he was an American, but he stood for what he believed, and I applaud that,” Chavez said.

He was an ambassador, a joker, a braggart, a champion, and a showman.

"When I'm gone, boxing's gone,” Ali said in 1964 before he was the heavyweight champion. "They might still try, but they'll never have another gate. They'll never have another Cassius Clay."

But most of all...

"Ali is the greatest. 'The Greatest,’” Chavez said.

He was and is the greatest of all time, the G.O.A.T. in a sport of kings.

Yeah, his loss stings like a bee, but you know he’s up there right now floating like a butterfly.