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Muhammad Ali laments 'old friend' Sir Henry Cooper's demise

London , Tue, 03 May 2011 ANI

London, May 3 (ANI): Boxing legend Muhammad Ali has paid tribute to old deceased British friend Sir Henry Cooper, saying 'I will miss my old friend.'


Sir Cooper died two days ago at his son's house at Oxted in Surrey at the age of 76.


"I am at a loss for words over the death of my friend, Henry Cooper. I was not aware he was ill. I visited with him two summers ago during a brief visit to Windsor as part of the Equestrian Games being held there. He was in good humour and looked quite fit," the Daily Mail quoted the three-time world heavyweight champion Ali, as saying.


"Henry always had a smile for me; a warm and embracing smile. It was always a pleasure being in Henry's company. I will miss my old friend. He was a great fighter and a gentleman. My family and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to his family and loved ones," he added.


Cooper, who was affectionately known as 'Our Enry', had fought with Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, twice, the first one in 1963 at Wembley Stadium.


Ali said several decades later that Cooper 'had hit him so hard that his ancestors in Africa felt it'.


Cooper fought Clay in 1966 for the second time.


He was the first to win the 'BBC Sports Personality of the Year' award twice in 1967 and 1970, and one of only three two-time winners in the award's history, along with Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill.


He became a familiar face on television following his retirement and became one of the team captains on the BBC quiz show A Question of Sport for a number of years.


Despite being successful, Cooper never won a world title and retired at the age of 36 years in 1971 after losing to Joe Bugner, a year after being awarded with the BBC Sports Personality award. (ANI)


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