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Saturday, June 4, 2016

VIDEO: "The Greatest" dies at age 74

Memories of an ex-boxing fan
By Will Collette

To see this video on YouTube:

When I was in my teens, I fell in love with boxing, largely because of Muhammed Ali, then known as Cassius Clay. Never before had I seen any athlete with that kind of strength and power and finesse.

When Clay converted to Islam and became a voice against the Viet Nam and racism, I not only became an even bigger fan, but considered him to be much more than just a sports star.

My father hated him and referred to him as "that cocky n***r, but that only boosted my admiration for him. I'm sure that many white teenagers in that period had similar experiences.

I watched every Muhammed Ali fight, even the ones where he stunk, because there was always the hope that Ali would turn the switch and do his magic.

Even after he retired, I stayed a boxing fan, hoping for another Ali to arise. Sugar Ray Leonard came close. But as the years passed, I came to realize that Ali was one of a kind in what is otherwise an abominable sport.

When Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in his 40s and began his 30 year decline, it was obvious that at least part his problems came from taking way too many hits to the head - and that this was part and parcel of the sport.

My interest plummeted as the sport became a showcase for greed, stupidity and barbarism. Even Olympic boxing became unwatchable due to its fatally flawed system of judging. 

But through it all were memories of Muhammed Ali in his prime and the mark he made on history. I hope he now has found peace and mourn his passing.