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By Tim Stelloh

Republican Senate Majority Leader and Louisville, Kentucky-native Mitch McConnell remembered hometown hero Muhammad Ali from the Senate floor Monday, calling him a legend and “one of the preeminent athletes of the 20th century.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., with, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 10, 2016.Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

"He was an icon known for grace on his feet and power in his fists inside the ring, and a great exuberance for life outside it," McConnell said.

The GOP lawmaker delivered his remarks three days after the 74-year-old civil rights activist and boxing great died at a Phoenix-area hospital while being treated for respiratory problems.

Ali started boxing at age 12 at a Louisville gym. It was there, McConnell noted, that he won his first professional fight, and it’s where the Muhammad Ali Center, which includes a museum dedicated to his life, was later built.

"It’s where mourners now lay flowers in his memory,” McConnell said, adding: “As people around the world honor The Greatest, the spotlight shines bright upon his hometown. I wish to again add my condolences too."