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He WAS The Greatest: Memories of the man

June 4, 2016

 

From my Memoir I Could Have Been a Contender: Memoirs of a Black Sheep:

 

"Muhammad Ali is the most charismatic man I have ever met.
As Cassius Marcellus Clay he went to Britain in 1963 to fight Henry Cooper, England’s finest heavyweight. We journalists knew all about the “Louisville lip”, “gaseous Cassius”, and were determined to bring the American blowhard down to earth.
The hostile crowd stood outside the Victoria Hotel in Nottingham, awaiting the arrival of the man. A limo pulled up and out climbed four huge blacks. I wondered which one was Clay. Then he got out. That man seemed to float above the ground and appear ten feet taller than everybody else. I have never seen anyone exude such extreme confidence and presence since.
We had heard that he was a fool with an IQ in single digits; boy did he disprove those stories. He came out with all the stock phrases, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, “Henry would dive in five”. But there was no boast to the quotes; he said them all with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his lips. He had the world at his fingertips and was having so much fun telling us how he conned the world into thinking he was a bad guy.
We learned of his audience pulling tricks and if his fitness regime. When he left we were still stunned by the man. I became such a fan that I saw every one of his fights – on big TV screen and TV – but I saw them all from his beating of Henry Cooper and that shock knock down and his “whupping” of Brian London to the first time he downed Sonny Liston to the thriller in Manilla” and the rumble in the jungle.
I met him twice more after that - both in Australia.
RIP The Greatest

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