I am not a boxing fan. I don't have much of a problem with the violence. For a very long time, there's been no art to boxing. There is a brutishness, a desperation and an near artificiality to it that doesn't make it - well, fun anymore.
I think I've been spoiled.
I remember watching Muhammad Ali. To this day, I think of him as the greatest fighter of my lifetime. Maybe ever...
But I also remember the cast of characters that Ali made and who helped make his legend: Frazier, Norton, Foreman, Holmes, Chuvalo, Liston. Ali's incredible stardom elevated the sport and made people wait to watch him on Friday nights (for free), or to watch the rebroadcast of his fights a couple of weeks later on ABC's Wide World of Sports. In the process, he made millionaires out of guys who would have toiled in obscurity for years. And he made young boys like myself marvel as he transcended the sport that made him the most recognizable face in the world.
I remember how his stand against the Viet Nam War. I had one teacher who stopped just short of forbidding us to talk about Ali in class because of that. It amazes me to this day, to remember how reviled he was for refusing induction into armed forces then, and to see how beloved he is today.
Ali was great, he was funny, he was courageous, he was profound, profane, he was cruel, he was graceful and he was The Greatest.
Do yourself a favor and watch 'Facing Ali'. It documents the memories of some of Ali's opponent: what they thought of him and what it was like to fight him. It's always touching to hear how Joe Frazier still feels about the terrible taunting Ali used to build their rivalry. Equally as touching are Ken Norton, Sr., account of what it meant, financially, for he and his son, to have fought Ali.
It's not surprising that the story and impact of the Greatest, would be...well...GREAT! Check you're local SPIKE TV listings.