Muhammad Ali’s heart kept beating for 30 minutes after he died in hospital, his family revealed last night.
Even though the boxing legend’s major organs had failed, his heart was so strong it refused to stop, daughter Hana said.
In a moving tweet she said: “All of us were around him hugging and kissing him and holding his hands, chanting the Islamic prayer.
“All of his organs failed but his HEART wouldn’t stop heating. For 30 minutes… his heart just keep beating.
“No one had ever seen anything like it. A true testament to the strength of his Spirit and Will!”
Hana added: “We are so happy daddy is free now. We all tried to stay strong and whispered in his ear, ‘You can go now. We will be OK. We love love. Thank you.
The boxing champion said he would like to be buried along with his parents
“You can go back to God now.”
The official cause of death was septic shock due to natural causes.
Ali, who was 74 and had suffered Parkinson’s disease for 32 years, will be buried in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, on Wednesday.
The three-times world heavyweight champ had previously said he would like to be buried along with his parents.
His funeral is expected to be a traditional Islamic ceremony in keeping with the faith he took up in 1965.
The service will be open to the public and televised throughout the world. It is expected President Obama will attend along with possible other heads of state.
Former President Bill Clinton will lead the eulogies to Ali.
His funeral is expected to be a traditional Islamic ceremony
He will be joined by actor Billy Crystal and TV sports presenter Bryant Gumbel.
Boxers past and present, including many Hall of Famers such as George Foreman, will also be there.
Family spokesman Bob Gunnell said: “It was a very emotional last few days.
“When he went in we thought it would be a short stay. He declined very quickly.
“But they were all there to say their final goodbyes. It was a wonderful thing to witness. All his family were there and some close friends. Of course it was very sad to lose a father, a brother, a cousin, a friend. But it was done with kindness, like Muhammad lived his life.
“All family members, his daughters his wife they all spent quality time with him, they were able to say their family goodbyes.
“It was a very solemn moment. It was a really beautiful thing to watch because it displayed all that was good about Muhammed Ali and the family displayed that with dignity.”
Muhammad Ali exulting in victory over Sonny Liston
Muhammed became ill on Monday and was rushed to hospital Monday night.
Mr Gunnell added: “The family was called when things became serious still hoping it would turn around.
“I arrived in Phoenix and it shortly became clear that his condition wasn’t going to improve.
“So they got all family members in in the last 24 hours, and they were given time to say their goodbyes.” Ali’s official time of death was given as 9.10pm local time on Friday night.
Mr Gunnell said: “I think he will be remembered as a man of the world who spoke his mind and wasn’t afraid to take a chance. “
US President Barack Obama captured the mood of millions as he said: “Ali shook up the world and the world is better for it.”
George Foreman, 67, beaten by Ali in their Rumble in the Jungle fight in 1974, said: “Muhammad Ali made you love him.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron , musician Sir Paul McCartney, boxers George Foreman, Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather and golfer Tiger Woods also paid tribute.
Those remembering his life pointed to the legacy outside the ring where was a fierce opponent of the racism that blighted large areas of the United States in the 1960s.
That was echoed by his grieving brother Rahman who said: “He’ll be remembered as the greatest sportsman of all time not just in the ring but outside of it too.
The funeral service will be open to the public and televised throughout the world
“There is God but Allah and Muhammad was a messenger. He was there for everyone. All walks of life. There wasn’t anyone he wouldn’t help.”
Ali’s last hours were spent hooked to a life-support machine after he had been admitted with breathing difficulties.
The tubes, placed into his once titan-like body, provided a glimmer of hope to the family at his bedside at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.
But it was a heartbreaking end for his daughters Hana, 40, and Laila, 38, who had seen their father deteriorate from the planet’s most charismatic fighter to a trembling shell of his former shelf.
A source at the hospital said: “He had an unshakable cough and they had to bring him to hospital and sedate him in order to see if it was treatable.
“Muhammad’s breathing became very shallow. He was unable to fill his body with the oxygen it needed.
“Doctors placed him on a ventilator to help but it failed to bring about any real change.
“His Parkinson’s just exacerbated a number of unfavourable things, including, in his advanced case, fatigue and constipation. The latter is a large intestine issue that negatively impacts the lungs and the skin.
“Muhammad could could no longer feel the slightest touch to his body.”
Barrow Neurological Institute in St Joseph’s hospital where Muhammed Ali died
Doctors had considered moving him to another specialist area but it was deemed too dangerous and he remained in a private room.
Recent years had seen his condition deteriorate immeasurably tragically leaving him become practically immobile.
Gone was his famous Louisville Lip which left the world mesmerised by his fast talking. In its place was now a few grunts in response to being asked if he needed anything.
No longer could he hold up his chin for more than a few minutes after undergoing surgery for cervical stenosis – the pinching of the spinal cord in the neck – in 2013.
The stenosis had so ravaged Ali’s body he needed a wheelchair to get around.
Last October his wife Lonnie released new details of his sad decline. Referring to his inability to no longer flash his trademark smile she said: “That’s the Parkinson’s mask. He feels emotions, but he can’t show emotion with his face.”
In recent months he was said to have suffered hallucinations and fallen victim to delusions he was back in the ring with Joe Frazier and George Foreman.
Doctors feared he was in the early stages of dementia.
The boxer had previously said he didn’t want one of his famous quotes on his grave but one from 1960s civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
Ali’s brother Rahman said: “On his headstone Muhammad said he wanted the Martin Luther King quote, ‘I tried to love somebody. I did try to feed the hungry. I did try, in my life, to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity’.”
Flags throughout Louisville were yesterday flown at half mast our of respect for the city’s most famous son.
Ali is survived by his nine children, including daughter Laila, who, like her father, became a world champion boxer; and his fourth wife, Lonnie.