Ali's confidence, cockiness made him symbol of black pride

WASHINGTON (AP) For Muhammad Ali, the idea of being a humble black athlete was never an option.

Instead, he demanded respect not only as a boxer but as a confident and often cocky black man and endeared himself to African-Americans as a symbol of black pride.

The Rev. Al Sharpton was a longtime friend of Ali's. He says Ali ''became the incarnation of black defiance, black protest and black excellence at the same time.''

Ali's constant boasting won admirers. Many people had never heard a successful black man talk about himself so boldly in front of whites.

He also gave voice to many blacks frustrated with a white society that asked them to fight communism in Vietnam but practiced segregation and discrimination at home.

Ali died Friday at 74.

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