Greatest boxer ever, and a man who stood up for his values. I saw him box Zora Folley in March 1967 at the old Madison Square Garden. We had seats in the first row of the balcony right over Ali’s corner. He was approaching his prime. It was his last fight before they took his license away for refusing the draft. His boxing skills and speed at the time I saw him were so much more impressive live than on film or TV. He was a great inspiration to many of us. I will miss him dearly.
Ali was controversial. He was witty. He used his celebrity to try to make the world a better place. At least in his public persona, he did not lack for confidence.
All records are eventually broken. There is always somebody that comes along who is bigger, faster, stonger, better. But, thus far, I think most would agree, Ali was the greatest.
A little before my time
I wasn’t old enough to appreciate him when he was in his prime and I had little exposure to people who really paid attention to such things, but looking back, I don’t think any boxer, and perhaps no single athlete that I recall, was on the forefront of people’s conversations and in such a positive way as Ali was. Heck, I even remember my kindergarten teacher praising the athletic talent of “Cassius Clay.” And he might have been brash and cocky, but I don’t think I ever heard a single bit of news about him that reflected badly on the kind of person that he was, and that’s kind of a rare thing.
I remember when he was sentenced
My dad talking to me and my brothers how Cassius Clay never would have been anywhere near any fighting, would have travelled around doing USO shows and PR work for the army, but gave up his belt and career and faced jail time to stand for his beliefs.
People talk about athletes being role models, but he’s the only one I ever heard my Daddy hold up to us.
More Than a "Boxer…"
He stood and fought on many levels, in and out of the ring. Lived life with courage, grace and integrity. I think his reaction to Liston’s dive was the only time he showed real (as opposed to showtime) anger in the ring.
“In the clearing stands a boxer,
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev’ry glove that laid him down
And cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame,
“I am leaving, I am leaving.”
But the fighter still remains”
Ali - the Greatest, “As-salâmu ʿalaykum” - Peace be upon you.
most influential athlete of our time