THE GREATEST IS GONE
Thank you, Muhammad Ali, for your contributions to the world of boxing, to the world at large – and to my childhood. It’s funny, because I almost always rooted against Ali when he was a fighter – not realizing that I was essentially watching the greatest, most entertaining “heel” of all time – but have spent the past 35 years since his retirement rooting for him as a human being.
Moments after his shocking upset of Liston in Miami Beach in 1964, Ali cut perhaps the greatest post fight-promo of all time; coining the iconic phrases “I shook up the world” and “I’m a bad man.” Moments after knocking Liston down in the rematch in the unlikely locale of Lewiston, Maine, this classic photo was taken.
A few years ago, growing tired during a late night drive in New England, I pulled over at a motel in Maine, a few miles from Lewiston. Upon checking in, I was surprised to discover that this pleasant, but nondescript roadside motel had lodged Ali during his time in Maine for his rematch with Sonny Liston in 1965. Yet, there he was in photos at the motel, lounging at the pool, eating in the dining room, standing in front of his room – room 302.
“Excuse me”, I asked. “Is room 302 available?” Yes, it was – but it was an extra twenty dollars because it had a fireplace. Despite legendary stories of my thriftiness, I took the room. Twenty dollars was a small price to pay
to walk in the footsteps of the greatest of all time.
On that night in Lewiston, Maine, Muhammad Ali was indeed a bad man. But on this night, the world has lost a good man. A very good man.