MultiChoice honours Muhammad Ali with pop-up channel

Viewers can watch his greatest fights, interviews and documentaries on the pop-up channel.

A file photo of late boxer Muhammad Ali in Los Angeles, California, in 2005. Picture: AFP/Getty Images.

CAPE TOWN - MultiChoice has dedicated a temporary channel to the late boxing legend, Muhammad Ali.

Viewers can watch his greatest fights, interviews and documentaries on the pop-up channel.

MultiChoice's Marietjie Groenewald says, "We've made a pop-up channel available on DStv channel 199 from today at 12 until next Sunday (4 -11 June)."

Tributes have poured in for the late heavyweight, who has been described by people across the globe as the greatest athlete of all time.

Niel Liefer photographed Ali all his life and says the legend had what he calls "visual charisma".

"I first photographed Ali as a 19-year-old kid. I have done 35 of his fights. I am often asked whether I have one favourite photograph and my favourite picture is the Cleveland Williams Ali fight in 1966."

Boxing analyst Peter Leopeng says Ali was indeed the greatest.

"He fought very well and became a good boxer, winning the Golden Gloves about six times. He went to the Roman Olympics and won the gold medal as a light-heavyweight and so began the biggest and most inspiring story in the history of boxing."

Ali, who had long suffered from Parkinson's syndrome which impaired his speech and made the once-graceful athlete almost a prisoner in his own body, died a day after he was admitted to a Phoenix-area hospital with a respiratory ailment.

His youthful proclamation of himself as "the greatest" rang true until the end for the millions of people worldwide, who admired him for his courage both inside and outside the ring.

Along with a fearsome reputation as a fighter, he spoke out against racism, war and religious intolerance, while projecting an unshakeable confidence and humor that became a model for African-Americans at the height of the civil rights era.

Stripped of his world boxing crown for refusing to join the US army and go to fight in Vietnam, Ali returned in triumph by recapturing the title and starring in some of the sport's most unforgettable duels.

Ali enjoyed a popularity that transcended the world of sports, even though he rarely appeared in public in his later years.

As the first black president of the United States, Barack Obama said Ali was "a man who fought for us" and placed him in the pantheon of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.

"His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing. It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail. But Ali stood his ground. And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognise today," Obama said in a statement.

Ali's death was confirmed in a statement issued by his family spokesman late Friday evening.

"I am happy my father no longer struggles. He is in a better place. God is the greatest," his daughter Maryum said on Saturday.

Boxing great Muhammad Ali has died at the age of 74. Ali, the silver-tongued boxer and civil rights champion who famously proclaimed himself "The Greatest" and then spent a lifetime living up to the billing. #RIPAli #MuhammadAli #RIPMuhammadAli #TheGreatest

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Additional reporting by Reuters.