Story of the Week

MUHAMMAD ALI

    To quote Howard Cosell, itís time to "tell it like it is". His pal, Cassius Marcellus Clay, better known as Muhammad Ali, has not been my favorite person. I vowed to family and friends that I would never do a piece on Ali. But by not writing about this man when I do a boxing story, I am avoiding an opportunity to tell the story about this fabled fighter.

    Why have I avoided the subject of Ali? What do I have against him? As the movie "Ali" shows, he avoided the military draft. He refused to go to military service for religious reasons; fighting and killing were against the Muslim code. But he was drafted into the military of the country in which he lived, and he should have abided by the laws of that country.

    Ali was correct, however, when he alluded to the fact that there is racial prejudice in this country, and in this countryís military. However, it is my opinion that an American called to serve in our military has to do it period, so Iíve never taken kindly to Ali avoiding that responsibility, for whatever the reason.

    Point number two. There is something to be said for loyalty. During the three years that Ali was stripped of his heavyweight championship, he was in terrible financial condition. In the movie, "Ali", Joe Frazier asked Ali if he needed money; Ali declined. The truth be known, Frazier did, in fact, give Ali money. Yet Ali conveniently forgot about the kindness of Joe Frazier as the years rolled by. Ali was very disrespectful to Frazier; that was wrong.

Muhammad, before itís too late, I suggest you extend an apology to the guy who befriended you when you needed it most; Joe Frazier deserves that.

    OK, so now Iíve set the negative portion of the record straight. Iíve "told it like it is", and I will continue to. Muhammad Ali saved boxing when he disposed of Sonny Liston, the bum with boxing gloves. Ali brought a great physical presence to the ring, as well as a great talent. He was as much a puncher as he was a boxer. And all you had to do was ask him; he would be only too happy to tell you of his ability, and how he could dance, and how pretty he was. The fact is that it was all very true; he was sensational.

    Ali brought excitement back to the world of boxing. He was supremely brash and arrogant-----and talented. I would have a difficult time picking a winner between Ali and Joe Louis in their prime; that statement alone speaks volumes to my respect for Ali, the fighter. (See my article on Joe Louis of 10-25-01.) Muhammad Ali is one of the greatest fighters who ever lived.

Last Weekís Trivia

    What was the printed price on the tickets to Super Bowl I in 1967? Would you believe $10? Thatís the cost of parking today, if youíre lucky.

Trivia Question of the Week

    The Brooklyn Dodgers had great power hitters. Who is the only player ever to hit a ball over the roof at Ebbets Field? See next weekís Sports Junkie for the answer.