Saturday, June 4, 2016

Remembering a Giant

"Who would have thought when they came to the fight?
That they'd witness the launching of a human satellite. 
Yes the crowd did not dream, when they put up the money,
That they would see a total eclipse of the Sonny"

Cassius Clay, Part of a poem he wrote before knocking out Sonny Liston in 1964.

Some of my earliest sports memories are Ali, the Louisville Lip. Bold, brash, unrepentant. He was bigger than boxing. He was bigger than sports. He was the greatest. He was huge.  The Louisville Lip. Man, he turned the sports world around, and I loved it.

I look back on the minutes Ali gave the world and it is humbling. Everybody saw the bravado, but nobody noticed the hours of work. People talked about the boasting, and the boxing, but never said anything about the running, and laboring. He was a man of iron discipline.

Ali was the greatest because he was willing to work the hardest. He had the talent, but he drug it out in the early morning and made it run beside him. He gave so much, and people always talked about the flashes on television. He was a man of immeasurable sacrifice.

I watched an interview with his wife and she talked at length about how he was not angry about the things boxing had taken from him, he was grateful for the things boxing had given him. She said Ali did not want any pity for his condition, he had the things he needed, and pity was better s spent somewhere else. He was a man of immeasurable dignity.

We vacationed in Louisville for a week. And one day we went to the Ali museum. It was a trip to a golden age. I could have spent days there just watching his fights. Looking at the relics of his career, and his life. I could have spent days there living golden minutes of my childhood, watching a larger than life personality, demanding the attention of the world. But, I enjoyed the minutes I had. And today I am grateful for the hours Ali spent to give me those.