Updated 06/04/16 – 12:25 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Widely considered the greatest boxer in history, Muhammad Ali has died, and he was being remembered as a “great neighbor” in the Kenwood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, where he once owned a home.
Ali, 74, died late Friday night in Arizona. He had been hospitalized with respiratory problems that were complicated by his long bout with Parkinson’s disease. His family had flown in from around the country, including his son, who lives in Chicago.
His daughter-in-law, Shaakira Ali, has met the boxing icon only a handful of times; the estranged family holding on to limited memories, including an autographed picture. Her husband left Chicago for Arizona on Friday, hours before Ali’s death, hoping to see his father one last time.
“He said his dad is sick,” she said. “He said all the organs had failed.”
Ali once owned a home in Kenwood, at 49th and Woodlawn, and the house remains a point of interest in the neighborhood.
“He was a very friendly person,” said Jack, a former neighbor in Kenwood. “He often would stand out at the gates and just stand there until people came to talk to him, and he would carry on conversations for a long time. He was very friendly. He was a great neighbor.”
During his time in Chicago, Ali became more involved with the Nation of Islam, protesting the Vietnam War, and refused to be drafted into the Army. When his application to be considered a conscientious objector was rejected, he took his legal fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he won in a unanimous decision.
“His name is mentioned in my gym I’d say almost every single day,” said Sam Colonna, who owns his own boxing gym now and was part owner of the now-closed Windy City Gym, where Ali once trained. “In Chicago, he’s a legend.”
Widely considered the greatest boxer of all time, Ali was molded in Chicago, leaving an impression inside and outside the ring.
“He’s always going to be a legend,” Colonna said.