Remembering The Greatest: DC mourns Muhammad Ali (Photos)

Boxing gear worn by Muhammad Ali circa 1973. The headgear is an item in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
Boxing gear worn by Muhammad Ali circa 1973. The headgear is an item in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Courtesy Smithsonian National Museum) (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
The corner stool from Dundee's 5th St. Gym, where Muhammad Ali trained. The stool is an item in the National Museum of American History and Culture's collection. (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
The corner stool, circa 1973, from Dundee’s 5th St. Gym, where Muhammad Ali trained. The stool is an item in the National Museum of American History and Culture’s collection. (Courtesy Smithsonian National Museum) (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
A ringside bell, circa 1973, from Dundee's 5th St. Gym, where Muhammad Ali once trained. The bell is an item in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
A ringside bell, circa 1973, from Dundee’s 5th St. Gym, where Muhammad Ali once trained. The bell is an item in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Courtesy Smithsonian National Museum) (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
This photograph of Muhammad Ali, circa 192-1981, is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Milton Williams/Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
This photograph of Muhammad Ali, circa 192-1981, is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Milton Williams/Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture) (Milton Williams/Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
A black felt pennant with white lettering and a graphic of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman fighting in a boxing ring. (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
A black felt pennant with white lettering and a graphic of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman fighting in a boxing ring. (Courtesy Smithsonian National Museum)) (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
The 1964 training robe worn by Muhammad Ali at the 5th Street Gym where he once trained. (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
The 1964 training robe worn by Muhammad Ali at the 5th Street Gym where he once trained. (Courtesy Smithsonian National Museum) ((Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture))
Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) Training Gloves, Post Manufacturing Co., circa 1960; leather, cotton, L. 10 x W. 5 1/2 x D. 4 in.  Studio photograph on gray background by NASM Photographer Eric Long, February 26, 2013, at 3400 Pennsy Drive, Washington, DC.  Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (2012.173.3ab)
Muhammad Ali’s signed training boxing gloves, circa 1960. (Courtesy Smithsonian National Museum) ((Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture))
Green narrow ticket for the World Heavyweight Championship of Sonny Liston versus Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali). (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
Green narrow ticket for the World Heavyweight Championship of Sonny Liston versus Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali). (Courtesy Smithsonian National Museum) (Collection of the Smithsonian Na)
The gym bag used by Muhammad Ali in the 1960s. (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
The gym bag used by Muhammad Ali in the 1960s. (Courtesy Smithsonian National Museum) (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
Official souvenir program of the World Heavyweight Championship of Sonny Liston versus Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali). (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
Official souvenir program of the World Heavyweight Championship of Sonny Liston versus Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali). (Courtesy Smithsonian National Museum) (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
Ticket to the World Heaveywieght Championship boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton. (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
Ticket to the World Heaveywieght Championship boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton. (Courtesy Smithsonian National Museum) (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
Ticket to the World Heaveywieght Championship boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Leon Spinks. The ticket is blue with black text. An image of the Superdome can be seen on the ticket. The text on the ticket starts with "LOUISIANA SPORTS, INC. / PRESENTS / THE BATTLE of NEW ORLEANS..."
Ticket to the World Heaveywieght Championship boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Leon Spinks. (Courtesy Smithsonian National Museum) (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
A photograph of Muhammad Ali and oscar Bonavena in the ring in 1970. The photograph is part of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture’s collection. (Courtesy Smithsonian National Museum) (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
President Barack Obama arrives on Air Force One at St. Lucie County International Airport in Fort Pierce, Fla. on Friday, June 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)
President Barack Obama, who keeps a pair of boxing gloves worn by Muhammad Ali in his private study off the Oval Office, said Saturday that Ali “shook up the world and the world is better for it.” (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach) Obama says Ali shook up the world and left it better off (AP/Joel Auerbach)
People look at Muhammad Ali's boxing gloves Saturday at the National Museum of American History in D.C. (WTOP/Allison Keyes)
People look at Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves Saturday at the National Museum of American History in D.C. (WTOP/Allison Keyes) (WTOP/Allison Keyes)
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Boxing gear worn by Muhammad Ali circa 1973. The headgear is an item in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
The corner stool from Dundee's 5th St. Gym, where Muhammad Ali trained. The stool is an item in the National Museum of American History and Culture's collection. (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
A ringside bell, circa 1973, from Dundee's 5th St. Gym, where Muhammad Ali once trained. The bell is an item in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
This photograph of Muhammad Ali, circa 192-1981, is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Milton Williams/Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
A black felt pennant with white lettering and a graphic of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman fighting in a boxing ring. (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
The 1964 training robe worn by Muhammad Ali at the 5th Street Gym where he once trained. (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) Training Gloves, Post Manufacturing Co., circa 1960; leather, cotton, L. 10 x W. 5 1/2 x D. 4 in.  Studio photograph on gray background by NASM Photographer Eric Long, February 26, 2013, at 3400 Pennsy Drive, Washington, DC.  Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (2012.173.3ab)
Green narrow ticket for the World Heavyweight Championship of Sonny Liston versus Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali). (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
The gym bag used by Muhammad Ali in the 1960s. (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
Official souvenir program of the World Heavyweight Championship of Sonny Liston versus Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali). (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
Ticket to the World Heaveywieght Championship boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton. (Courtesy Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture)
Ticket to the World Heaveywieght Championship boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Leon Spinks. The ticket is blue with black text. An image of the Superdome can be seen on the ticket. The text on the ticket starts with "LOUISIANA SPORTS, INC. / PRESENTS / THE BATTLE of NEW ORLEANS..."
President Barack Obama arrives on Air Force One at St. Lucie County International Airport in Fort Pierce, Fla. on Friday, June 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)
People look at Muhammad Ali's boxing gloves Saturday at the National Museum of American History in D.C. (WTOP/Allison Keyes)

WASHINGTON — On Saturday, people stood in front of the glass case with the bright red boxing gloves inside, taking pictures, and sharing their memories of a man who was an icon to many.

“He was great in the ring and out of the ring too … and a very respected man,” said Tracy Fox, who was visiting the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History from Connecticut. “He was the greatest boxer ever, and champion, and ‘float like a butterfly sting like a bee’!”

The museum has the boxer’s Everlast gloves. Mark and Marie Farrell stood in front of the display, and talked about the man they both admired.

“Muhammad Ali, the greatest that ever lived,” laughed Marie Farrell. “I was probably maybe 8 at the time.”

“I remember all of his quotes and his bantering with (sportscaster) Howard Cosell,” said Mark Farrell.

Though she came to pay respect to the gloves, Jessica Rucker of D.C. said she thinking about Ali’s battles for justice.

“I think he was an incredibly complex and nuanced man who was not only a heavyweight champion, but a champion for black liberation, and for human rights, both in the United States and abroad,” Rucker said. “I appreciated how he used his platform as an athlete to raise awareness for civil and human rights.”

Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, said Ali used both his visibility as a fighter, and visits to college campuses, to support the civil rights movement.

“But more importantly, he demanded that there be a sense of black pride,” Bunch said. “He made people feel that black people were as good as anybody on this earth, and therefore he inspired generations to care.”

Bunch said Ali was a symbol of what many African Americans thought would be a new day for black people, even though he stunned the nation when he joined the Nation of Islam.

“The Nation of Islanm in 1964 was seen as this radical militant group that was unknown to many Americans, black and white,” Bunch said. “In some ways, he became a symbol of what some people perceived as the militant new Negro. … So Ali carried the burden of not only having to be a good fighter, but he carried the expectations, especially of a younger generation, of what being black in America could mean.”

Bunch said that Ali was a man who believed in his religious convictions, and his career suffered from that.

“It was more important for him to be a man of God, to be a man of the Nation of Islam, than to  go to Vietnam and his career suffered from that,” Bunch said.

But in his later years, Bunch thinks Ali’s greatest achievement is the visibility he turned on to Parkinson’s disease, even though the horrible illness stripped him of many of the things he did best, from his movement to his verbal dexterity.

“You could still see in his eyes, and his spirit, that nothing could kill the spirit of Ali,” Bunch said.

WTOP’s Lara Bonner  contributed to this report.

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