(GEORGE CURRY MEDIA)—I know it’s extremely difficult, but if you can, ditch the memories of Muhammad Ali showing up uninvited at Sonny Liston’s training camp, announcing that he was going bear hunting. Put aside his boasts of being the greatest of alllll-timmmme. Scratch the images of the “Ali Shuffle” and his patented rope-a-dope.
Ali’s greatest victories came outside the boxing ring. He was the greatest of all time as a boxer and, more important, as a humanitarian. He consistently displayed unwavering courage and a willingness to be unpopular. In fact, it was his unpopularity with the establishment that made him popular with people all around the word.
I had the pleasure of meeting Muhammad Ali twice, first in the late 1960s as a part of a conference of college newspaper editors in Washington, D.C. and in the late 1990s as a board member of the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME).
At that first meeting, I was struck by how physically imposing Ali was at 6’2 ½ inches and about 236 pounds. I pretended to be boxing with him — making sure he knew that I was just pretending — and my fist looked like a small pimple next to his face. Ali was extremely generous with his time and was playful as ever.