None of the imposing grace of his 'butterfly' heyday remains. And he appears slighter and even more frail than in recent years. But Muhammad Ali's newest slogan, one of many the silver-tongued athlete has coined in his time, is 'The greatest is yet to come'.
And this will to keep on in the face of any challenge electrified the atmosphere at a pre-Olympics award ceremony when the legendary boxer appeared in London on Tuesday.
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It took all the great man's efforts to acknowledge the crowd with one raised hand.His host David Beckham looked proud to welcome the icon, who used to boast he could 'float like a butterfly and sting like a bee".Escorted by his wife Lonnie, Ali, now 70 and blighted by Parkinson's, had come to give a prize on behalf of his foundation, which inspires young people to help their communities. The recipient was Matiullah Haidar, 19, who took refuge in Britain four years ago after losing his whole family on a single day in the Afghanistan conflict.
Becks praised the American champion for venturing out into the limelight once more and confirmed that he would have some sort of involvement at Friday night's opening ceremony. Although it's unlikely to be on the scale of Atlanta 1996 when Ali lit the cauldron.The two sportsmen have met on several occasions, one of the first being in 1999.Of his hero, David said: "He [Ali] stood for so many amazing things throughout his life, whether it's what he did in the ring or outside of the ring. "His life and his career was all about survival and he is an amazing man."