“I Am the Greatest-He Was-Still Is”
The legend of the man are everywhere. The stories are non-stop. The memories are being re-told and relived.
How influential was Muhammad Ali.
Not only will boxing and sports royalty come to Louisville for a Memorial service. Similiar get togethers are being discussed for the Vatican, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, and in London.
Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali. He became a symbol for the Nation of Islam. He became a radical. He became a boxer. He became a champion. He became an ambassador.
No matter what segment of life Ali touched, he carried influence, equal to the thunder of the punches he threw in the ring.
And in the ring, it is where he changed the sport. He single handledly brought it back from the match fixing scandals of the 1950s.
Ali fought and beat all the greatest heavyweights of that era, when that weight class carried, and made the sport. Smokin Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, George Foreman, Earnie Shavers, and Sonny Liston.
He was defiant, he was verbose, he was bombastic, he was dominant. The record show a (56-5) career mark, winning the title back on 3-different times.
The bouts are national landmarks of the sports history. The Thriller in Manila. The Phantom Punch fight in Lewiston, Maine. The Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire.
His life was about working with Malcom X. Taking on the Black Panthers. Receiveing the Medal of Freedom from President Bush.
It was his verbal jousts with his alter-ego Howard Cosell. It was going toe to toe with columnists. It was a war that carried him to the Supreme Court, in his decision to be a conscientous objector to the war in Viet Nam.
He was a man of global integrity. His charity work in Africa a primary example. His involvement in helping get US hostages released from the Persian countries.
In a world where people like the Pope, FDR, JFK, Churchill are held in high esteem, Ali’s name must be added for his influence and involvment in all things worldly.
He was a sportsman and a showman. He feared no one, not the draft board, not opponents. He called people White Americ’s championa, and Uncle Toms. He stood over a fallen boxer and screamed ‘get up you gorilla’. He told us ‘Norton must go down’. You do remember Cosell screaming into a mike “Down goes Frazier” He called Liston “Old Penitentary face” and Frazier “Big Ugly”
Muhammad Ali was all things to all people. Champion in the ring. Champion around the globe.
No truer words spoken, “I am the greatest”. He was. And he still is.