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Today is the funeral and prayer service for one of the greatest (if not the greatest) fighter of all time – Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali is known to some as the legendary boxer who as a young man “shook up the world” when he won the 1964 WBA heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston in an upset. Ali went on to have the epitome of a stellar boxing career, going down in history as the greatest boxer of all time.

To others, he is known as an activist, where in his younger days, through his public persona and bravado, challenged the establishment by resisting the draft and speaking out against the Vietnam War, ultimately sacrificing the prime years of his boxing career. Through the decades, his stand for civil rights, the equality and love for all has made him a cultural icon, inspiring millions around the world.

As marketers, brands can also learn from Ali as the king of fight promotion. Controversy and confidence are two things that fighters and promoters use till this day, and Ali was short of neither – claiming to be the greatest and calling opponent knock-outs as accurate as to the round – even before they happened! At a time of segregation, his message, character, and celebrity captivated all races and even reached across the world at a time of limited technology – a global marketers dream.

How loved and inspiring was Muhammad Ali?

The beauty of technology in this day and age is we have a way to measure that! As we’ve done before, we looked at social sentiment on Twitter using ForSight, an award-winning social listening (social analytics) platform from our friends and partners at Crimson Hexagon, to see how people have been reacting to his passing last Friday, June 3, 2016.

The date range we looked at was from 6/3/2016 to 6/7/2016.

Volume

We can see from the chart that the total potential Twitter impressions about Muhammad Ali reached an astounding 2.5 Billion at one point in this date range.
Total Potential Twitter impressions from 2016-06-03 to 2016-06-07
The most retweets were for a tribute to Ali from Real_Liam_Payne, while interestingly the second most retweets comes from the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. The third most retweeted tweet comes from Ali’s rival and friend, George Foreman.

ali death - twitter retweets from 2016-06-03 to 2016-06-07

Content

This topic wheel gives a good visual representation of what was being said about Muhammad Ali. Phrases range from “RIP” to discussion around Donald Trump’s controversial reaction. Kimbo Slice, street fighter turned UFC fighter, passed within days of Ali, and there seems to have been quite the discussion comparing the two (or anger thereof!).

ali death - topics from 2016-06-03 to 2016-06-07

Influencers

The most popular influencer tweeting about Ali was the NY Times, with over 27 Million followers.
ali death - most influential from 2016-06-03 to 2016-06-07

Geography

As throughout his life, Ali’s death created discussion around the world. Interestingly enough, the most volume of posts came from the Vatican.
ali death - world posts per capita (per million) by country from 2016-06-03 to 2016-06-07

ali death - top 10 countries 2016-06-07_21-21-14

Demographics

We can see that the majority of the discussion about Ali came from Males, and most from the age range of 35 years old and above.
ali death - gender breakdown from 2016-06-03 to 2016-06-07

ali death - age breakdown from 2016-06-03 to 2016-06-07

Conclusion

We bid farewell to the Champion. The Legend. The Icon. Muhammad Ali stood for what he believed in, spoke for those who didn’t have a voice and though he was an American, he inspired the world. And the data supports it.

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