Muhammad Ali

As a fanatical sports fan I have long said that if I could go back to any era in sports it would be to go back in time and watch Muhammad Ali in his prime. 

Muhammad Ali passed away Friday at the age of 74. New York Times currently has a great tribute to him up on their main page. 


Titan of Boxing and the 20th century. Hard to argue with that. He was a larger than life figure. We live in an era when so many with the power to change things for the better don’t say anything because they don’t want to piss someone off and lose endorsement dollars but he was literally willing to give it all away to stand up for what he believed in. He lost over three years in the prime of his career while going head to head against the government.  A few hours ago I came across this online and it is transcribed below too. 


Pablo Torre correctly labeled him as the “Patron Saint of not sticking to sports.” I’ve thought about this a lot over the years but can you imagine how much bigger of a star he would’ve been in the ESPN era or even in this social media era? Muhammad Ali in his prime with Twitter & YouTube at his disposal to promote his fights? He’s already the most recognizable face on the planet. His endorsement potential would’ve put Michael Jordan to shame. 

The word gets thrown around a lot these days but Muhammad Ali simply was the greatest. He was retired before I was ever born but I have grown up being a fan. Through DVDs, documentaries & the internet I have watched a ton of footage from in and out of the ring. My dad always talks about what a big deal Ali’s fights were in Pakistan and how they would be broadcasted live in an era when live sports on television just didn’t happen all that often. 
One of my favorite sports memories is him showing up in Atlanta to light the cauldron at the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics. It is still incredible to watch all these years later. At those same Olympics he received a replacement for his medal from 1960

Over the next few days and weeks we’ll see a lot of great writing on the remarkable life Muhammad Ali lived. Tim Dahlberg wrote the obituary for AP and it really was incredibly well done. The story included this great nugget on the “Rumble in the Jungle” that I had never heard before. 

Ali won over a country before he won the fight, mingling with people as he trained and displaying the kind of playful charm the rest of the world had already seen. On the plane into the former Congo he asked what the citizens of Zaire disliked most. He was told it was Belgians because they had once colonized the country.
“George Foreman is a Belgian,” Ali cried out to the huge crowd that greeted him at the airport. By the time the fight finally went off in the early morning hours of Oct. 30, 1974, Zaire was his.
“Ali booma-ya (Ali kill him),” many of the 60,000 fans screamed as the fight began in Kinshasa.

Has there ever been a trash taker like Muhammad Ali? 

Jeremy Schaap narrated a great piece on  him for ESPN late Friday night. Part of it was written by the late great Dick Schaap

MSNBC did a great job with their coverage Friday night into Saturday morning with Brian Williams anchoring. Same with ESPN who actually went commercial free for at least five hours. 

Even at this age he kept an incredibly active schedule. We’ve seen him periodically show up at sporting events in addition to all the charity work he’s done. 

He chimed in on Donald Trump’s blatant racism and ignorant comments about Muslims this election cycle. 

What Am I reading and watching today?

Muhammad Ali turns 70

A Happy 70th Birthday to the Greatest of All-Time Muhammad Ali.

He truly was one of a kind in his prime. There wasn’t anyone like him before and there hasn’t been anyone after. He was way ahead of his time. Imagine how much bigger he could have been in the Cable and social media era? That’s not to take away from the impact he did have in his prime. He was a big part of the civil rights movement as well as the anti-war movement.
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Who will light the Olympic Cauldron?

As an Olympics buff and being a Canadian on top of it I’ve been thinking the last couple of days about who the organizers from the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) have in store for us tonight to light the Olympic cauldron. As has become custom there is a lot of secrecy involved. VANOC CEO John Furlong said yesterday that Wayne Gretzky would not be the one lighting the cauldron. Was that just a decoy?

I just had to put together a little list of people who could be the person to light the cauldron.

  1. Wayne Gretzky – Is there a more recognizable Canadian anywhere in the world? A legendary hockey player he never did win the Gold Medal as a player but he did put together the 2002 Gold Medal winning Canadian team that ended a 50 year drought. A recent poll showed that 25% of Canadians want him to get the honors
  2. David Suzuki – A prominent Canadian scientist who’s done a lot of work studying climate change around the globe. He happens to be a Vancouver native. In 2004 he was named the 5th greatest Canadian of all time by the people of Canada. 
  3. Barbara Ann Scott – She was a Gold Medalist at the 1948 Winter Olympics. She is one of the oldest living Canadian Gold Medalist and as far as I can tell she is the oldest Canadian Woman still alive who won Gold. 
  4. Betty Fox – A name most will not recognize but is one that has been floating around. She is the mother of Terry Fox, who is widely recognized as one of the greatest humanitarians Canada has ever seen. He died of cancer but helped raise a lot of money for research running across the country even after one of his legs had to amputated. The IOC has already announced that they will give out a “Terry Fox Award”
  5. Trevor Linden – He played parts of 16 seasons for the Vancouver Canucks. He is well respected in the community for his charity work
  6. Nancy Greene – She was voted Canada’s Female Athlete of the 20th Century. She won a Gold and a Silver at the 1968 Winter Olympics. 
  7. Larry Walker – A native of nearby Maple Ridge, Larry Walker played 17 seasons in the MLB. He is one of the greatest baseball players Canada has ever produced but with this being a Winter Olympics he is a long shot. 
  8. Rick Hansen – Paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 15 he has gone on to become one of the greatest Wheel Chair athletes of all time. 
  9. Gordie Howe – How can you go wrong with Mr. Hockey? His numbers more than speak for themselves. 
  10. Paul HendersonScored one of the most famous goals in Canadian history
Edit: Just realized that I forgot to mention Michael J. Fox

Who did I miss? Who will it end up being? One thing is for sure though. Whoever ends up with the honor will not top the greatness that was Muhammad Ali’s appearance at the 1996 lighting ceremony.

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Wayne Gretzky: The Making of the Great OneDavid Suzuki's Green GuideTerry Fox: His Story (Revised)Canucks Legends: Vancouver's Hockey HeroesNancy Greene : an AutobiographyRick Hansen : Man in MotionNine: A Salute to Mr. Hockey Gordie Howe