The Ali Frazier fights were in many ways symbolic of what was going on in the country at that time. If you were for Frazier you were most likely for segregation and the Vietnam war. You were against the Civil Rights Act, you didn’t believe in busing. If you were for Ali, you were against the Vietnam war. You saw blacks as being equal. You liked Howard Cosell.
I never knew him as Cassius Clay. I always knew him as Muhammad Ali. Or just Ali.
My parents couldn’t afford closed circuit tv and I was too young to get into bars where his fights were being shown. When Ali was fighting I’d stay up late listening to the radio, anxious for any updates. I’d jump out of bed the next morning and turn on tv or radio to find out what happened, always hoping Ali had won.
There’s so many great stories about him. Right now this one is sticking with me:
Ali visited a hospital of a boy who was dying from cancer. Ali told the boy that he was going to defeat Sonny Liston and that he, the kid, was going to defeat cancer. “No,” the boy said. “I’m going to God, and I’m going to tell God that I know you.”