Sunday, June 05, 2016
There was quite simply no bigger celebrity in the world for many years than Muhammad Ali, or Cassius Clay (as he was originally known). He was indeed THE GREATEST. Sports Illustrated named him the “Sports Personality of the Century.” (Sorry Dennis Rodman)
Some of Ali's bouts were epic, almost mythical. The entire world stopped and watched or listened (many were just available on radio) when he fought.
But more than that was his personality. Outgoing, outspoken, outrageous, larger-than-life. He taunted his opponents and aggrandized himself. But he was such fun, and he had sooooo much talent to back up his boasts, that he completely captured the public’s imagination. The man had a flair in everything he did. He described his approach as "I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee."
Now we have superhero movies. Back then we had a real living breathing hero – Muhammad Ali.
The punches took their toll, as they always do. In later years he suffered with Parkinson’s Disease and mentally he just wasn’t the same. We found it painful to watch but all preferred to remember him in his glory days -- handsome, witty, and kind (despite the ability to kill an elephant with one punch).
I wish I could convey to those who don’t know just how big he was, how influential, how inspirational, how colorful, how important. Everyone wants to be in the spotlight these days, but back then you had to really earn it. You had to really accomplish something. Muhammad Ali stood high above the rest. I don’t think there will ever be another like him. Trust me, he was and forever will be THE GREATEST.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM