I was sad to learn of the death of the man who may have been The Greatest of All Time, Muhammed Ali. I got interested in boxing during the time after Ali gave up the heavyweight title. I liked Joe Frazier. I liked his name and I liked his workingman style.
I started reading The Ring Magazine while it was still being published by its founder, Nat Fleischer. I loved his articles about the history of boxing. Fleischer insisted on calling Muhammed Ali Cassius Clay. Fleischer didn't call Jack Dempsey Bill. He didn't call Sugar Ray Robinson Walker Smith. He didn't call Pancho Villa Francisco Guilledo. So why wouldn't he call Ali Ali? I began to suspect it might have something to with racism or what we now call Islamophobia.
I was happy that Frazier won his first fight against Ali. After that, I came to appreciate Ali more and more. He stood up for what he believed in. He was a great fighter. I was sad that he kept fighting so long. He could be a jerk, especially to Joe Frazier, but he was a talented jerk.
Someone on NPR this morning that Ali's Parkinson's disease may have helped the decline of boxing. That is a good thing.