HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Muhammad Ali was as polarizing and transcendent a figure as they come.
Everywhere he went, he made people laugh, made people dream and touched people's lives.
"You grow up with that image of him and your grow up and you learn the things he did inside and outside that ring," said world champion boxer Brian Viloria, who idolized Ali. "You start appreciating the things that he's done for the sport, you start appreciating the things he's done for people for his culture and for the people around him outside the sport. You see how much of an impact he has had, not just in boxing, and you try to make that your goal as a fighter."
Ali, who had battled Parkinson's disease for more than 30 years, died Friday in Arizona. He was 74.
Investor and community leader Douglas Ho said he met Ali in April of 1968, ironically right before he was shipped to Vietnam. Ho said although Ali didn't agree with the war, he was forgiving and the two became very close when he returned.
Ho sat ringside for several of Ali's fights including the famed "Thrilla in Manilla," a rubber match with Joe Frazier that Ali won via technical knockout after Frazier's camp conceded the fight prior to the 15th round.
"When you sit next to a guy like that, he's almost a giant in his own time," said Ho.
Chuck Williams, a member of the Board of Governors of the World Boxing Council, came to know Ali over the years.
"He loved people, and that came through," said Williams. "It didn't matter if you were old, ugly, pretty, colored, polka dots, it didn't matter. Muhammad Ali was a man of the world."
Ali earned a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and went on to win three heavyweight titles. In 1997 he received the Arthur Ashe Courage award, the 1999 Sports Illustrated "Sportsman of the Century", and he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.