Muhammad Ali, the eloquent, colorful, controversial and brilliant three-time heavyweight boxing champion who was known as much for his social conscience and staunch opposition to the Vietnam War as for his dazzling boxing skills, died Friday.

He was 74.

Once the most outrageous trash talker in sports, he was largely muted for the last quarter century of his life, quieted by a battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on Jan. 17, 1942, in Louisville, Ky., Ali learned to box after his bicycle was stolen when he was 12 years old. When young Clay vowed to “whoop the behind” of the thief, a local police officer encouraged him to learn to box to channel his energy.

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