Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Muhammed Ali - Rumble On!

I think I've mentioned before that I don't watch boxing anymore.

Call it 'good ol' day syndrome' or whatever, I was spoiled - by Muhammad Ali.

I had the opportunity to watch him box during his heyday. Ali-Frazier I, II & III. My friends and I used to argue about whether Frazier or Ali was better - no matter who won. I used to listen to Tom Joyner (then a local radio personality) when he would call Ali or Ali would call him and they would go on and on about his next fight. It was really entertaining leading up to the 'Thrilla in Manilla'. Ali even nicknamed Joyner's sons, 'Killa' and 'Thrilla'.

My 6th grade teacher, Mr. McKnight, would argue that Ali was a disgrace (he always called him 'Cassius Clay'!). Mr. McKnight, a veteran, was incensed that Ali refused to enter the draft! We would argue back in support of our hero! Our teacher's view was the overwhelming attitude of the adults in our world, we were a new generation influenced by the idea of militancy and rebellion.

In 1996, when Ali, trembling, lit the torch at the summer Olympics in Atlanta there was a type of vindication for those of us in that 6th grade class. Our hero was now an internationally beloved figure. That marvelous body and 'pretty' face now being ravaged by Parkinson's disease, was no longer controversial he was simply revered as 'the greatest of all time'!

Today is his birthday. He's 70 years old. Boxing hasn't been the same since he left the 'squared circle'. His grace, his quickness, his shuffle, that left jab. I see it all when I see him, no matter his age or health.

So Happy Birthday Muhammad Ali! Or let me say it better, 'Float like a butterfly; sting like a bee! Rumble, young man, rumble!' 

Rumble on Ali! Rumble on...

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