Anthony Mundine mourns Muhammad Ali loss

Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

Former boxer and Rugby League player Anthony Mundine says he's 'devastated' by the death of childhood idol Muhammad Ali.

Mundine opened up to Sky News about the impact Ali had on his own life, admitting he played a vital role in shaping the Australian as a person.

"He had a profound effect on me, just the way I am, the man I have grown to become, just his stance, his honesty and always being real," Mundine said.

"He's also being real, and not shying away for that, and that really played a big part of in the way I look at things.

"I had a little cry before, and I gave him our blessings."

Mundine, 41, first met the champion boxer at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and a decade and half later reflects on what was a surreal experience.

"I sort of was just there in awe, to be honest, it was sad because he obviously has Parkinsons and stuff, it was sad to see him in that state," he said.

Fellow boxer Danny Green also praised the sporting icon's legacy with a touching message on Facebook.

"Thanks to this champion, boxers like myself were able to make a living from the sport we love," he said.

"He was responsible for bringing the great sport of boxing to the masses. He captured the imagination of millions."