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I am a self proclaimed coffee addict and Executive Director of a non profit missions agency working primarily in the Mexican cities of Oaxaca, Guadalajara, and Ensenada. I've been married for over 30 years to Chelle, and we have one grown son, Joseph, a graduate of Auburn University in Alabama.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Greatest

I was 12 years old and listening to the radio. Radio was big in our house those days. Being 1971, American families had not yet learned the beauty of having a television in every room, so if the one set was being used, as it usually was; you listened to the radio for entertainment.

On this particular night though, I was not listening to be entertained. It was March 8, 1971. A night I had long anticipated. The night one of my idols, Muhammad Ali would regain the World Boxing Heavyweight Championship. He was fighting Smokin’ Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden in New York City. This was the biggest event on the planet at that time, and I had a ringside seat in front of our radio. Not listening to the fight, but awaiting the round by round updates broadcast every few minutes over the CBS News affiliate in Los Angeles, KNX.

For me, Ali was legend. Someone who, whether you agreed with him or not, had to be respected because he stood up for what he believed was right. And he did not fear the consequences. A man who for three years, could not work in his chosen profession because he chose religion over war. Now I know many of you may argue that what he did was wrong, that he should have gone to Vietnam and all, but the fact remains, when faced with losing everything he had worked for, he did not waver. He stood his ground and faced the consequences. Our country would be better off today if there were more leaders willing to show the courage that Ali did back in the 60’s.

I remember hearing how Ali started fast, and I was excited. It was looking good. The middle rounds went back and forth, but Ali was starting to tire. And that was when Frazier had him. The layoff had taken its toll. Unable to build up enough stamina in the 5 short months since his reinstatement, Ali was now vulerable to the punishment Frazier was doling out. After nearly falling in the 11th round, Ali needed a miracle in the 15th to win. It was not to be. Rocked by Frazier's devastating left hook, Ali went down. The fight was lost, along with his quest to regain the Heavyweight Title that had been wrongly taken from him in 1967.

I cried that night. It was as if Frazier had hit me. Back in those days, we really did have sports stars we cared about and for me, Ali was a hero. Today, on his 65th birthday, he still is.

Happy Birthday Muhammad Ali.
You were, are, and always will be “The Greatest!”

Comments on "The Greatest"

 

Anonymous Gordon Mallon said ... (5:10 PM) : 

Ali is one of my favorites also. I used to love listening to him "spar" with Cossell. His statement, "I ain't got no truck with them Viet Cong." was classic. Maybe the finest trash talker of all time. The attempts we hear today are mostly just lame.

 

Blogger Dave Miller said ... (7:52 PM) : 

Gordie, how true that is! See ya soon.

 

Blogger highlandhistory said ... (12:13 PM) : 

Ali was great, and I too admire people who sacrifice themselves for what they believe.

Mind you, I think that I would draw the line before getting to the point that Ali did. Otherwise, the door is too wide open for suicide bombers, racists, and other immoral/amoral groups to squeeze through.

Too bad not more of today's youth pay attention to the real lessons of Gandhi, MLK, and Ali: you have to be willing to pay the price for making your stand.

 

Blogger Dave Miller said ... (4:18 PM) : 

Amen.

 

Blogger Timmer said ... (10:51 AM) : 

The Greatest.

Good comment Brian.

 

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