A Birthday Like No Other

Ali  vs Norton                   boxing    1976


A suggestion from a writer and broadcaster who’s been around too long to feign emotional detachment: Deontay Wilder, should you score the most meaningful win by an American heavyweight in an elephant’s memory, elevate yourself during your post-fight interview by acknowledging Muhammad Ali’s 73rd birthday.

For that matter, the same suggestion goes for Bermane Stiverne, should HE be victorious tonight.

What Ali has meant to heavyweight history, of course, pales in comparison to a much wider significance. It’s been 33 years since Ali last fought, but go see the movie “Selma,” which details a critical chapter in the civil rights movement … or fast-forward to a week ago and consider the overwhelming gathering of humanity on the streets of Paris in support of free speech.

What you can’t help but realize is that what Ali boldly and unapologetically stood for …and fought for … not only made him unique in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but keeps him relevant today.

Like millions of other baby-boomers, I grew up watching Muhammad Ali and the fights that made the world stop and watch in wonder: wins against Liston … and Frazier … and Foreman … and Norton … and all the others.

I was lucky enough to cover his last two fights, both of which turned out to be sad LOSSES.

Regardless, Ali is the best heavyweight of all-time. But what makes him “The Greatest” is only PARTLY explained by what he gave of himself in the ring.

Happy birthday, champ.

You’re gonna live forever.

Frazier Ellis Ali Louis Patterso

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