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?
- How Muhammad Ali used a bus at 3 a.m. to get Sonny Liston to fight him
- “Rumble in the Jungle“
- “The Thrilla in Manilla“
- Muhammad Ali stopped a man from committing suicide in 1981
- Marlins president David Samson said the announcement of Ali’s death was ‘not an error’
- Pizza Hut commercial with Angelo Dundee
- Muhammad Ali profile from 1971 by Dick Schaap
- Another story from 1971
- When Muhammad Ali’s Twinkle Shone Brightest
- The Story Behind That Superman and Muhammad Ali Team Up
- Muhammad Ali receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom
- Keith Olbermann on Ali
- Cowlishaw: Muhammad Ali was Abraham Lincoln-like ‘larger than life’
- Muhammad Ali: Why they called him ‘The Greatest’ and why I called him my friend
- Fighting George Chuvalo in Toronto was Muhammad Ali’s turning point
- How Muhammad Ali’s death was covered
- Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell: Foils and Friends Bound by Mutual Respect
- First heavyweight crown for ‘The Greatest
- Vin Scully on Ali
- Muhammad Ali breaking down life
- ABC Breaking the news
- NBC Breaking the news
- Random clips I’m finding on YouTube