Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Muhammad Ali 75 -- January 17, 2017

Muhammad Ali, who may have been The Greatest of All Time,was born 75 years ago today, on 17-January-1942.  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.
The documentary When We Were Kings told the story of The Rumble in the Jungle, Ali's 1974 fight in Zaire against giant George Foreman.  No one expected Ali to win.  Some people expected Ali to die.  I still get the chant "Ali, boma ye!" stuck in my head.

I remember a program Ali did on ABC's Wide World of Sports where he sat with Howard Cosell and watched movies of past heavyweight champs.  Ali said he would have beaten each one.  I wonder if he would have beaten Jack Johnson or Joe Louis.  In either case, it would have been a heck of a fight.  I would like to see the show again.

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