It’s been a pretty bad year for losing excellent people.
I had a pair of boxing gloves when I was a kid, and I often used to put on my dad’s dressing gown and those boxing gloves, and pretend to be Muhammed Ali. I had a book called Boxing for Boys, or something, which gave a good footwork exercise of placing glass bottles around the floor and whilst shadow boxing you’d be evading those and that would sharpen up your footwork. It certainly sharpened up my skills with a dustpan and brush.
When I was a kid, I never understood the things about Ali that make me admire him so much now, I just knew that he was The Greatest.
And you KNOW that he would have kicked Superman’s ass.
Of course, Superman claims that he was letting Ali win because the safety of the world depended on it. That’s a Roberto Martinez excuse, as far as I’m concerned. Ali won.
I think my favourite Ali story I read in Norman Mailer’s “The Fight”, the account of the Rumble in the Jungle. And if you’ve never read it, you are in for a treat.
It relates to a meal where Ali was present, and doing his “I’m so tough, I’m the toughest man that ever lived, I’m so mean I make medicine sick” schtick. And ITV Boxing correspondent, Reg Gutteridge got tired of this eventually and told Ali that he wasn’t so tough. “You think you’re a tough guy? I’ll show you what tough is.”
Reg then picked up a steak knife from the table and thrust it hilt deep into his own left leg, not even flinching.
“Now,” said Reg, “Let’s see you do that”.
That shut Ali up, not knowing that Reg had a wooden leg.
I don’t know if it is a true story or an apocryphal one, but I love it anyway.