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As Muhammad Ali leaves ring for last time, the Internet bows its head

The death of the legendary boxer, activist and trash-talker-cum-poet unleashes a flood of words on social media.

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Edward Moyer Senior Editor
Edward Moyer is a senior editor at CNET and a many-year veteran of the writing and editing world. He enjoys taking sentences apart and putting them back together. He also likes making them from scratch. ¶ For nearly a quarter of a century, he's edited and written stories about various aspects of the technology world, from the US National Security Agency's controversial spying techniques to historic NASA space missions to 3D-printed works of fine art. Before that, he wrote about movies, musicians, artists and subcultures.
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A robe worn by one of Ali's cornermen during the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" fight, on display in London. The Web paid tribute to Ali on Saturday, after his death.
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A robe worn by one of Ali's cornermen during the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" fight, on display in London. The Web paid tribute to Ali on Saturday, after his death.

A robe worn by one of Ali's cornermen during the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" fight, on display in London. The Web paid tribute to Ali on Saturday, after his death.

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The death of Muhammad Ali, boxing's poet laureate, prompted a blanket of elegies on the Internet on Saturday, as everyone from fellow fighters to heads of state took to social media in celebration and remembrance of Ali's life.

Ali -- whose uncompromising moral stances, brash and stylish way with words, and three heavyweight championships made him one of the most recognized figures of the late 20th century -- died Friday at 74. He'd suffered from Parkinson's disease.

Social media was covered with quotes by Ali, along with photos and clips, all of which served as an impressive reminder of the athlete's accomplishments and his stature as a cultural icon. And of course people posted their own words of tribute. Hashtags trending on Twitter included #TheGreatest, #RIPMuhammadAli and #RumbleInTheJungle.

The sporting community stepped up in a big way, with posts from famous foes, younger fighters inspired by the champ, Olympian peers, and fellow sports legends.

But Ali was, of course, far more than an athlete. His larger-than-life personality and his agile tongue made him a global media darling, and his insistence on civil rights and his refusal to fight in the Vietnam War made him a political focal point during the '60s era. World leaders were quick to note his death, as were fellow celebrities.

Here's a sampling of sentiments.