Springfield residents remember Muhammad Ali as more than a boxing legend

Inside the ring he had physical toughness, outside the ring it was a different kind of toughness,

FILE - In this March 29, 1967, file photo, heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, center left, and Dr. Martin Luther King speak to reporters. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74. (AP Photo/File)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Muhammad Ali was known for his boxing career but to many he was much more than a great athlete.

“All the younger kids in my generation in my era, we looked forward to watching him on television even when he went to the Olympics. So it’s a great inspiration for all the younger brothers and sisters growing up today,” said Sanders Dixon of Springfield.

Springfield residents told 22News they’ll remember him not just as a boxing legend, but also for everything he’s done for the African American community and civil rights.

“It was a tragic loss for the black community. You know I grew up in the 70’s so he was pretty much all i saw when I was watching boxing but he’ll be missed,” said Anthony Mitchell of Springfield.

Inside the ring he had physical toughness, outside the ring it was a different kind of toughness,

He stood up against the Vietnam War, spoke out against racism and also spoke out against Islamophobia following the 9/11 attacks.

“I have an uncle that went to the Vietnam War and came back. You know he refused to go, he didn’t want to go over there to kill people, regardless if they were enemies or not,” said Modesto Almodovar of Springfield.

He never backed down from the fight, his stances cost him his world title and almost sent him to jail. To many his ability to stand up for what he believed in made him a hero.

“He’s going to be a great loss, not for the entire country but for the whole world, wow,” said Juan Calcao of Springfield.”

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