Africa

In pictures: Muhammad Ali's love affair with Africa

Muhammad Ali was idolised across Africa for his prowess in the boxing ring and for championing the rights of black people. Ahead of his funeral on Friday, the BBC looks at his relationship with the continent:

Image copyright Topfoto
Image caption Ali embarked on his first African tour in 1964, saying: "I want to see Africa and meet my brothers and sisters." His visit began in Ghana, the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to win independence from a European power.
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Image caption "I am glad to tell our people that there are more things to be seen in Africa than lions and elephants. They never told us about your beautiful flowers, magnificent hotels, beautiful houses, beaches, great hospitals, schools, and universities," he said.
Image copyright AP
Image caption His itinerary included Nigeria, Africa's most populous state, where crowds welcomed him with chants of "king of the world".
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The African trip came in a historic year for Ali - he defeated Sonny Liston to become world champion, dropped his "slave name" of Cassius Clay and converted to Islam.
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Image caption The 22-year-old also visited Egypt, bridging the racial divide in Africa.
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Image caption He fused politics and religion, giving the black power salute while shouting in Arabic "God is great" at the pyramids in Cairo.
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Image caption He visited Egypt again in 1986. He once said that if a boxer was to be big, he had to be a Muslim "or else he won't get to nations like Indonesia, Lebanon, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, and Turkey - those are all countries that don't usually follow boxing".
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Image caption His most famous visit to the continent was in 1974 to Kinshasa, capital of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), for the Rumble in the Jungle fight in which he reclaimed the world title after defeating George Foreman.
Image copyright Alamy
Image caption Zaire's then ruler Mobutu Sese Seko (L) arranged the fight, which increased Ali's fame and brought the country to the world's attention. Mobutu agreed to pay $5m (equivalent to approximately $24m today) to each fighter.
Image copyright Alamy
Image caption Ali spent time in 1974 training in Kinshasa, built on the banks of the Congo River, getting acclimatised to its tropical climate and attracted crowds of fans when he went out in the city.
Image copyright AP
Image caption The fight was held at 04:00 local time. Millions watched around the globe on television as Ali entered the ring whipping up the 60,000 crowd, who chanted "Ali, boma ye", a phrase in the local Lingala language meaning "Ali, knock him out".
Image copyright AP
Image caption He visited Sudan in 1988, four years after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, to spread the message of Islam as a religion of peace. Here he prays in a Sufi mosque in Khartoum.
Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption South Africa's first black President Nelson Mandela, who had also been a boxer, once said: "Muhammad Ali was not just my hero, but the hero of millions of young, black South Africans because he brought dignity to boxing." The pair met in 2005.

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