Saturday, June 04, 2016

The Greatest Passes On: What's My Name, Fool?

Mohammed Ali 1942-2016
Mohammed Ali

I looked at my phone this morning and here's the news: Mohammed Ali is dead.  

Mohammed Ali was and is the greatest. I'd say that he was one of the best-known individuals of the second half of the 20th Century up there with John Kennedy, FDR, Pele, the Beatles, Gandi, Mao, Thatcher, Castro, and so on.  I've been a fan of his for a long time watching the films and reading the books. Here's my martial arts bookshelf from a few years ago (it's moved forward since then) which featured two books about Ali: King of the World and What's my Name, Fool?.  

My Martial Arts Bookshelf, circa 2009
My Martial Arts Bookshelf, circa 2009
Today, I'm indulging and watching ESPN2 most of the day: it is running Ali fights and stories, all day.  

What a life and history! A kid in Louisville who discovers boxing, an Olympic Gold Medal champion who is the All American kid, the professional boxer who is original and fast and beautiful, the personality and promoter, the striving identity when he adopts the Mohammed Ali name and beliefs, the twists and turns of alliances with Malcolm X and others within the Black Muslim movement, the incredibly principled political statement made by going to jail for over 3 years for refusing to go fight in Viet Nam, the years of comebacks and wins against both age and incredible fighters, the incomprehensible ability to absorb pain and to keep fighting, the astounding fights around the world, and then the long sunset as a legend and icon as his body and control disappears.  

And of course, he was a human like the rest of us with eras, inconsistencies,  vanity, evolution, some cheating, and some luck.

He was the Greatest. And the young Billy Crystal wasn't too bad either. Here's Billy Crystal presenting Mohammed Ali in 15 rounds.

Life and history does not get more interesting than this. If Gods walk among us than he was surely one of them. Truth is stranger than fiction.  And good biographies are among the best entertainment and study.  

Amazing Photo, Amazing Man, Amazing Life

Billy Crystal's Eulogy for Mohammed Ali: George Forman's Talk on hearing of Ali's death:

1 comment:

Johne said...

I've just been reading about Ali and I'm struck by how hated he was in the 60s. He upset everyone. He was himself, not what anyone wanted him to be. He said that he did not want to go kill in Viet Nam which at the time, was brave and visionary. By the late 70s, he was respected for this but he was not at the time. He was hated. But I think he was right.