Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Happy 65th Birthday Muhammad Ali
Today is the 65th birthday of 'The Greatest'. On this day Cassius Marcellus Clay, the man who would become an inspiration to millions and a symbol of Black Pride was born in Louisville.
The self proclaimed 'pretty' man in 1960 won Olympic gold in Rome, then shocked the world twice. He beat Sonny Liston for the championship in 1964, then joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. He was a rare blend of lightning quick speed, punching power and unabashed showmanship. The boxing world had never seen anything like him and frankly hasn't been the same since he left. He was also a proud, principled man. He refused induction into the Army during the height of the Vietnam War, an act that cost him his title and three precious years of his boxing career.
Ali's body has been ravaged by the effects of Parkinson's disease, but all of us who had the pleasure of growing up during his heyday and watching the epic 'Thrilla in Manila' with Joe Frazier, him rope-a-dope the then-invincible George Foreman to regain his crown for a second time in 1975, defeat Leon Spinks to regain his crown for the third time in 1978 and his verbal jousting with Howard Cosell will never forget it.
He brought tears to my eyes when I watched him along with the rest of the planet light the Olympic flame during the opening ceremonies of the Atlanta Games in 1996.
He will always be 'The Champ' to me.