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Ali the icon still resonates at 70

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David Bond | 13:07 UK time, Tuesday, 17 January 2012

It is now more than 30 years since Muhammad Ali retired from boxing. For much of that time he has been battling Parkinson's disease, his public appearances becoming rarer and rarer as his physical condition has worsened.

But for those who question whether he still resonates with the sport, I would suggest a trip to the Lynn boxing club in Peckham, south London.

I spent a couple of hours there on Monday evening, filming a special report on his 70th birthday for BBC News. Despite the freezing weather, around 20 boys, and young men and women had turned out to train and spar.

When I spoke to some of them I was amazed to find that even boys as young as 11 had watched most of Ali's classic fights and studied his technique and style intently.

As we played them replays of his fights on the wall of their gym, one or two mimicked his moves, trying to absorb a bit of the magic they were seeing.

Ali, of course, will always hold a special place in British affections.

As ITV's excellent documentary 'When Ali came to Britain' pointed out, initial hostility at his brash trash talking quickly gave way to warmth as his charisma won over the public.

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Bill Clinton praises the courage, spirit and determination of Muhammad Ali

His frequent visits and TV interviews here cemented his status and, although he often faced tough questioning on his divisive religious and racial views, he relished the greater freedom he seemed to enjoy in Britain.

Decades on, his power as a sporting icon grows ever greater. He remains the most recognisable figure in sport, regularly topping sporting celebrity polls around the world.

His ability to generate cash also remains huge.

He earned $55m (£35.75m) in 2006 and although that was a high point, he still generates between $3m and $4m a year for CKX, an entertainment-business based in New York which owns 80% of his image rights. (Just for the record, CKX also own the lion's share of the image rights to Elvis - not a bad American double act.)

I never saw Ali fight in the flesh. Like those youngsters at the Lynn club, I have to rely on replays to experience those amazing nights in Zaire or Manilla, moments when the world seemed to stop for heavyweight boxing.

But you didn't have to see him fight in person to understand his significance - both as a fighter and as a man of history, someone who shaped rather than just reflected events. Who else in sport can compare?

Tiger Woods perhaps matches his sporting achievements and as a black man in a predominantly white sport potentially carries similar cultural resonance.

But while we now know a bit too much about his private life, who can say they know anything of Tiger's beliefs? He is a sporting giant for the corporate age and honesty tends to be bad for business.

Watching one or two of Ali's interviews with Sir Michael Parkinson again, I am amazed at the level of scrutiny he was subjected to.

It's impossible to imagine any sportsman or woman now holding such controversial views on race, religion or, of course, his rivals - let alone being prepared to be questioned on such subjects.

We live in a more deferential age and sport is much the poorer for it.

On Saturday night in his home town of Louisville, Kentucky, a few hundred carefully selected guests gathered at the Muhammad Ali Centre to celebrate Ali's 70th birthday.

It was supposed to be a behind-closed-doors, private event. But Ali the showman couldn't resist.

As the crowd sang happy birthday to him, Ali stood on a balcony above them and raised a hand. It was a small gesture but it was acknowledgment of the enormous regard in which he is still held.

Afterwards one of Ali's daughters told reporters he was now entering the most dangerous phase of Parkinson's when he is most susceptible.

But Ali has spent his life defying doubters and confounding expectations. Who would dare write him off just yet?

David Bond's report on Ali will be broadcast on BBC News at 1800 and 2200 GMT on Tuesday, 17 January.


  • Comment number 1.

    David, a great blog which is fitting tribute to the greatest sportsman and and a great humanitarian. I would truly have loved to hear his commentary on a boaxing match! Imagine his wity comments on: Tyson, the Klitschko's, Lennox Lewis, Holyfield etc

  • Comment number 2.

    When people say "iconic sportstars" I think iconic sportstar, Muhammed Ali, The Greatest.

  • Comment number 3.

    David you're right, that was a great documentary on ITV last night which showed his love for this country and behind the showman a down to earth gentleman. Happy Birthday Muhammed Ali...A true Legend!

  • Comment number 4.

    I could sit here for hours, commenting on just hiw great he was and give reasons, but sorry am at work and don't have the time but just to say...

    He's great.

  • Comment number 5.

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm not so sure about Ali these days. Yes, he's obviously one of the best (if not the best) but his attitude to Joe Frazier, after Frazier had stood by him when Ali was at rock bottom, leaves a stain on his legacy. Sometimes you have to look beyond the image, the myths, and get to the bottom line.

  • Comment number 7.

    Thank you for allowing my comment at no.5 above. Would you believe me if i told you that my wife (until very recently) did not know who Muhammad Ali is. She grew up in communist Czech Republic and has no interest in sport!! The assumptions we make! It was maybe two weeks ago that I was trying to explain who he was, who he is now and why he's so famous.

  • Comment number 8.

    Ali was the greatest sportsman of all time. Nobody, no matter which sport, can come close to Ali. He entertained us in and out of the ring, stuck by his principles and was a major player in the Civil rights movement. Good Luck Ali, you will never be forgotten.

  • Comment number 9.

    You only have to look at the toys out of the pram behaviour of Amir Khan to realise how far this great sport has fallen from the time when Ali was a king among kings. Part of being a true great at any sport is the ability to accept things, learn and move on. Win or lose.
    Happy birthday 70th to the big man

  • Comment number 10.

    Incredibly brave in and out of the ring and the best athletic and graceful boxer ever. But some of Parkinsons questions during interviews make you cringe.

  • Comment number 11.

    Yes it's a good blog but you've missed out something of great importance here, something which if it is not highlighted properly can affect the mans legacy. YES, Ali did spout some very controversial views on lots of subjects but mainly on religious and racial issues. BUT, and this is a big but, you have to remember that in the early days he used to follow the doctrine of the Nation of Islam, which over the years has been proven to be an ultra hardcore militant group who believed that their leader Elijah Mohammad was a prophet of God. In truth, the Nation are not even Muslims when you look at what they really believe in. Later in life when Ali adopted traditional Sunni Islam and Sufism he became sooooooo much more mellow and his views changed dramatically - the same can be said for Ali's first teacher Malcolm X. When you hear Ali talking about how blacks should live seperately from whites and that white Americans are the devil you should remember that this was a man who was simply going along with the party line of his leaders - he became truly enlightened in his mid to later years.

  • Comment number 12.

    poor article and poor comments from people actually changing history.

    I knew this was going to be poor when tiger woods is described as a black person, even though he has just as much, if not more asian blood in him. His mother is vietnamese if i recall.

    Add the fsct that if vitali fought ali he would be destroyed. The guy culda and shoulda lost to henry cooper, who would barely be a light heavyweight nowadays. Robbed ken norton 3 times, and had aload of other dubious decisions.

    To top it all off the guy was just not very nice. Called michael parkinson all sorts of racial tirades for no reason. The guy was a proud member of the nation of islam, a nick griffin esque movement for black people.

    Poor article from a journalist thats so politically correct, he is infact rewriting history.

    As for the people commenting, sheeple comes to mind.

  • Comment number 13.

    #12 froch carl
    I've seen them all dude, believe me, no one gets close to Ali, just the greatest thing sport ever produced.
    "Floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee."

  • Comment number 14.

    Terrific blog, David - I loved this:

    "We live in a more deferential age and sport is much the poorer for it."

    We are much the poorer, too.

  • Comment number 15.

    An iconic, legendary sporting figure. There will never be a sports personality like Ali.

  • Comment number 16.

    There have been many superb sportsmen-Bradman, Pele, Bernhard Langer, Tiger Woods. It is not (just) what he did in the sporting arena but what he did outside it that makes him the greatest. How many sportsmen would dare to take on the whole world just to defend their beliefs? How many would dare say "I got no war with the Vietcong" knowing fully well that it would mean withdrawal of the pro-license, hostility from all quarters and prison? Nah! one really cannot comprehend Ali's greatness just by looking at the fights. He was a great sportsman, in the ring and outside it!

  • Comment number 17.

    #12, I knew someone would come up with a statement like yours, a lot of people keep saying he was with the Nation of Islam and had controversial racial views, I'm a black person from South Africa, I lived here when life got good and apartheid was over but the racism was still painful especially for those of us who were the first generation in mixed race schools. I can understand how a lifetime of that would lead Ali to take such an extremist view point. When you here the stories of what was happening in America in the 60's when you watch documentaries about the racism in South Africa, you go to Robben Island and here first hand accounts of the conditions I can get how that would make you angry.

    The man was a Legend and the Vitali and his brother killed the interest in boxing, his fight with David the other day was the final nail in the heavyweight's coffin. Ali was king, combinations were unheard of before him. When he won Rumble in the Jungle he sealed his claim to greatness. It's not just about winning it's about winning in style. Man United wins most of their games but I die a little everytime I watch them because they bore me to death. But Barca make it look great and even Madrid are great to watch.

    He brought boxing out of the "Hit as hard as you can" era and into the hit as smart as you can era. No one can do that. Nadal and Novak win. But Federer makes it look easy and elegant. Longer than I intended to go but even with his short comings, in particular his treatment of Smokin Joe, I absolutely hated that treatment even though to him it might have been the regular hype he builds in a fight. Joe was his biggest competition and got the worst treatment.

    He's the definition of greatness

  • Comment number 18.

    I remember in the early 60`s my dad and myself would set our alarm clocks for 3.00 A.M. so we could get up and watch the Ali-Liston fights live on BBC. First one was great, second one was over while we were in the kitchen making a pot of tea. Liston refused to answer the bell in the first fight and definitely took a dive in the first round of the second. Yes Ali was a controversial figure and made some weird comments but we must remember what the US was like in those days especially the South. He stood by his beliefs and paid a huge price for them but he is a person to be very much admired. I continued to watch him here in Vancouver when he fought Fraser and Foreman and those fights were all epics and have no modern day equivelants.

  • Comment number 19.

    The man was the greatest racist and bigot in sports, bar none. Some of his statements outside of the ring where dreadful, bordering on lunacy. This is the man who advocated a seperate state to be created from American land, in order to form a country for Black Americans. He projected himself as a crusader, but scratch beneath the surface and there was a stench of hypocrisy and contradictions - 4 marriages for instance and a desire to keep boxing and living in america, a country which he had heavily criticised.

    Yet this person is drooled over, forwarded automatically as the number one athlete of all times. Not in my name.

  • Comment number 20.

    There are many people who, like Nav Sandhu, hold very strong feelings about Muhammad Ali. I'm one of them, although I tend to magnify his better qualities and overlook his faults.
    The fairest thing that can be said about Ali is that he has always symbolised the times in which he lives. His "bragadociousness" and his separatist comments were the fruit of America's transparently unjust treatment of the African-American population, culminating in Jim Crowe segregation. Whilst the post Parkinson's Ali is a far more reflective and benevolent character, a man transformed by his life experiences. This fits in very well with many peoples vision of today's world; and today's world is a more cautious world (although in Nav's case, it's only slightly more cautious), it's a world which has looked at itself and learned from the things (both right and wrong) that it has done.
    I think that Ali represents a lot of different things to a lot of different people... and along with that he's in many people's top 3 heavyweights of all time (roughly taking the number 1 spot as often as Joe Louis in a lot of the listings that I've seen).
    That's as great as it gets.

  • Comment number 21.

    He was the perfect package without doubt.

    Let's start with most important if discussing a sportsperson; his ability and skill in his chosen sport. Speed, grace, power mere mortals can only dream of.

    Then his principles with choosing his religion (not that I am at all religious), his stance on the Vietnam war at great personal consequence and detriment to himself. How tempted must he have been to sell out on his beliefs?? I don't know but he's a human. Not sure, in fact know I'd wobble and take the easy route. He never did.

    And then his charisma, humour and looks.

    Yeah, the perfect package as an iconic sports hero.

    Nuff said really. Legend is overused word, but this guy was a legend amongst other more 'normal' legends!!

  • Comment number 22.

    By pure coincidence, it was Martin Luther King day in the US yesterday. His response to the unjust treatment of African-Americans was very different to that of Cassius Clay/Muhammed Ali's. It had more class about it. MLK's longed for an America "which judged people on the basis of the content of their character and not the colour of their skin". In sharp contrast, Ali viewed white Americans as "devils" and he wanted to stop inter racial marriages/relationships. This was insanity.

    His racist taunts against Joe Frazier, which involved the words " gorilla" and "uncle tom" went way beyond hyping a fight and showed this vile creature for what he was at the time - classless out of the ring.

    IMHO, he was the best heavyweight of all time - his resume is second to none and he had great boxing qualities (speed, great chin, reflexes, defence, half decent power and a ferocious will to win). Its a shame his political views and his utter disrespect for others was of such a low quality. We should never overlook that.

  • Comment number 23.

    Yeah politics will always divide Mr Sandhu. Everyone's slighted by everybody else.

    But screw that. Easy to sit there and criticise a person's views. But on their resiliance on facing criticism and sticking to is admirable even if you think they talk crap!! :-D

  • Comment number 24.

    Ali's achievements in boxing are significant. But just looking through a few comments on here I really don't understand how these achievements (together with his personality) lead some people to treat him like some kind of infallible super human, beyond criticism. Like all of us he is (and was) capable of very good deeds. Like all of us he is also capable of regrettable deeds. Like all of us sometimes his judment is good. Like all of us sometimes his judgement is questionable. I could go on, but in short...he is human. I think it is important that we find a way to see all people in this way and not treat sportspeople, movie actors, singers and musicians or even politicians as any more special than any of us. Have more respect for yourself.

  • Comment number 25.

    In the world of boxing there are cotroversies about the greatness of Muhamad Ali. Most people think that he was overrated and that he was lucky when Cuba's president did not allowed Teofilio Stevenson (three times Olimpic champion) to become pro boxer.

  • Comment number 26.

    Trouble with Boxing is that too many gob off on the merits of fighters from their armchairs or keyboards and who would have kittens if anyone from the fight game went boo to them. Of all sports you have to earn the right to slate anyone who ever laces up gloves by at least giving it a go. It's not hitting or kicking a ball on a sunday morning for fun. So screw the armchair experts.

    That aside, whether you agree with Ali's politics/lifestyle or not he had the balls to say what he said, sacrifice what he did and do the odd 45mins with superfit fighter monsters who would happily kill him with their fists. For years. He pulled it off. You and I will never get close.

    It's not about whether you're the moral god to say 3 marriages is 2 too many. Or whether somebody else might have beaten him a la Teofillio from Cuba. It's about reaching millions and thinking 'wow'. Nobody here will ever wow anyone. So reserve in being too harsh eh??

  • Comment number 27.

    Nice blog, David. Thanks. You certainly got people talking (Tiger's mom is Thai, btw 12) but I'm surprised no one has mentioned Jack Johnson as a contender for the greatest boxer. Certainly he's the closest from that sport to register in Davis' Z-ratings, which remains the only (half) serious attempt to compare and rank sportsmen and women in different disciplines. Davis ranks Bradman as leading by a country mile, which is understandable when you look at how far the second, third and fourth batsmen are behind him. Ali had (and retains) charisma and he was an inspiration to millions, but he still divides opinion. Perhaps he wouldn't be too disappointed to see that. At least that proves he matters.

  • Comment number 28.

    #27. "Ali had (and retains) charisma and he was an inspiration to millions, but he still divides opinion. Perhaps he wouldn't be too disappointed to see that. At least that proves he matters."

    Well said. And to be fair to Bradman who nobody who knows cricket would argue was the legend amongst other legends (not that I saw him, on stats I mean) he can't compete with Ali who would be known globally for that x factor when most of the planet wouldn't have heard of Bradman.

    I stick by what I said; Boxing is unique. No other sport is as man v man and guts and skill as Boxing is.

  • Comment number 29.

    I am absolutely flabberghasted by the criticisms of Ali in 2 or 3 comments made on this forum. Firstly, he joined the Nation of Islam at the time when there was little to no racial equality, especially in Louisiana where he came from, where a Jim Crow mentality was predominantly existent in the south. Secondly, his spat with Joe Frazier was maybe a little over the top, but his refusal to join the Vietnam war, his sporting and ambassadorial relations with the entire African continent, and his supreme artistry in waxing lyrical far outweighed his few minor discretions he had in his career.

    And for that one person who thinks Klitschko would have beaten him in the boxing ring, just watch some of his fights in the 60's. He was the most flamboyant outside fighter ever in the heavyweight division, he moved like a welterweight, had an iron chin, and could throw devastating combos. Klitschko would stand no chance- its funny how people on here think they are contributing to the discussion when they know nothing about boxing or anything about Muhammad Ali. Unbelievable!

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    This may seem stupid, but does michael Parkinson have Parkinson's?

  • Comment number 32.

    Ali was the all time greatest in all respect. He is the best all around today. I admire and love this person. It is my dream to see another sportsman like Ali. I have watched 90% of his boxing matches, His history is not a hype, it is real and factual. He is an inspiration for all our sportsmen and sportswomen. Long live Ali. Ali, Ali Boomaye. For the people who criticize him, they should know that no human being is perfect including the ones who are overly critical. I will accept a criticism only when it is made by an angel.

  • Comment number 33.

    I feel ashamed that some have chosen Ali's 70th birthday to voice criticism of the great man. Ali fought fire with fire in and out of the ring. Perhaps I admire him even more for his stance against the Vietnam war and for his stance against my race of people (the white man) who got exactly what they deserved, what did we expect from him, RED ROSES?

  • Comment number 34.

    The Ali phenomenum is as a result of so many factors. He was around (and was beaten by) some of the greatest heavy-weights, he was around when media was taking off around the world when satelites enabled 'rumble in the jungle' and 'thrilla in manilla' to be seen by millions, and interviews were watched and reported on as they happened and circulated within hours. This was all a first for the world, and Ali was at the centre of that.
    He was also a victim of this as he was (pretty obviously) used by religion, the media and politics as a mouth-piece and had a personal life that was extremely shaped by the society in which he grew up in and the media explosion that was occuring. These seemed to account for his 'floors' in character and the public out-bursts which people put him down for.
    There will never be another Ali, because there will never be a time like that again.
    If Tiger Woods (who is just as eloquent, charismatic and floored!) had been around in the 50s-70s we could easily be saying the same things about him, but we're not.
    Happy birthday Ali, and I hope the coming years are kind to you!

  • Comment number 35.

    I would advise any of you to read:
    Muhammad Ali - His life and times by Thomas Hauser
    King of the World by David Remnick
    Both of them are absolutely brilliant books that have won major awards. Other than that i echo what the majority of you were saying; he was an incredible fighter, but importantly he was an incredible person. Had the power to stand up for what he believed in the face of extreme hostility from all sides. A legend in every sense of the word! Happy belated birthday Muhammad Ali

  • Comment number 36.

    Firstly I wasn't around to see him in his prime and only have documentaries and articles to go by. However I am a huge boxing fan so obviously I was very interested in learning about 'The Greatest'. What I found for myself was very interesting. As a boxer he was gifted with some great physical gifts and could come up with some great game plans based upon those gifts (rope-a-dope was genius, as was making the fight take place outside in Zaire, all designed to tire out Foreman). He had a great chin in his prime (possibly leading to all his problems nowadays) and had excellent footwork and speed. However, I don't believe he is the best boxer that has ever lived as his skills weren't the best. Just ask Larry Holmes how overrated Ali was!

    HOWEVER, as a person I don't think Ali is as great as people believe he was. Most people are vaguely aware that he didn't fight in Vietnam because of religious reasons and put him forward as someone who stuck by their beliefs. However these are some lesser known facts about Ali that make me cringe when I hear about all this glorification of Ali:

    1) You criticised Woods for his private life but Ali was as bad as a womaniser. Famously he left his wife back in the US for the Thrilla in Manilla and was parading his girlfriend around, even introducing her to the ruler of the Philipines at the time.
    2) As post 6 pointed out his treatment of Frazier (and others) was disgusting. One black man calling another Uncle Tom and gorilla are amongst the worst insults imaginable.
    3) Ali was incredibly racist. Watch some of his interviews (even the one mentioned in the article with Parkinson). This is above and beyond fighting for black rights. He was manipulated by the Nation of Islam and believed such things as:

    - "All Jews and gentiles are devils… Blacks are no devils… Everything black people doing wrong comes from [the white people]: Drinking, smoking, prostitution, homosexuality, stealing, gambling: It all comes from [the white people]"
    - "You got the white racists who believe in separation such as I believe: One day the black people of America must go to self, clean up self, help self, do for self. I recognize [the white racists]."
    - "No intelligent black man or black woman in his or her right black mind wants white boys and white girls coming to their homes to marry their black sons and daughters."
    - Teachings of the Nation of Islam:

    The original black race of man is superior, especially to the white man.

    Yakub (a scientist from 6600 years ago) is responsible for creating the white race, a "race of devils".

    Allah who came in the person of W. D. Fard Muhammad (founder of the Nation of Islam, pronounced Farad), and the 24 Black scientists that selected him to be God. The 24 Black scientists (or 24 Black elders) have the supernatural ability to write the history of the universe.

    The Honorable Elijah Muhammad told us of a giant Mother Plane that is made like the universe, spheres within spheres. White people call them UFOs… It took $15 billion in gold at that time to build it. It is made of the toughest steel… Because of its circular nature it can stop and travel in all directions at speeds of thousands of miles per hour.

    Like post 6 states, 'Sometimes you have to look beyond the image, the myths, and get to the bottom line.'

    I'll leave you with a quote from Martin Luther King:
    "When Cassius Clay joined the Black Muslims he became a champion of the racial segregation and that is what we are fighting against."

  • Comment number 37.

    Ali was no more racist than the United States government that enforced a disgusting, near-apartheid system of 'segregation' that left black people as second class citizens in their own country. Who can blame black folk like Ali for embracing black nationalist groups like the Nation of Islam when discrimination against black people was virtually a national policy? A few years after segregation was abolished and blacks were finally being accepted as equals to whites in the eyes of the government, Ali left the Nation of Islam and ended any 'racist' pronouncements against whites.

  • Comment number 38.


    shooo go away!!

    if he never said these things maybe things would not be as they are now. esp in america

    like you know him personally. again "shooo"

  • Comment number 39.

    No one has come up with one shread of evidence debunking my points.

    For starters take woods(his is half thai, not black like david bond poorly put), hed won 14 majors, in a weak era. Yet hes claimed to be the best ever.

    Vitali literally destroys everyone and its claimed to be a weka ara.

    Facts are ali fought guys smaller than him, yet he was only the same frame as david haye. No way would vitali got close to losing to a heavyweight midget like henry cooper.

    Plus eastern european countries(the ones who dominated amateur boxing) wer ot allowed to turn professional. So Ali only competitiors were in USA. Hardly a world wide sport.

    Add the fact ali robbed ken norton of 3 matches.

    If clazaghe was a member of the BNP he would be banned from boxing. But its ok for ali to hurl racist abuse at michael parkinson, and want seperation between races???

    This is a rewriting history at its very best. Hes portrayed as the greatest and facts show hes anything and out of the ring...

  • Comment number 40.

    and btw jick nickaluas is the greatest golfer ever...won 18 majors in a period with tom watson,palmer, gary player lee travino etc etc

  • Comment number 41.

    RE post 39:
    'Facts are ali fought guys smaller than him'

    Yep, George Foreman and Sonny liston were tiny as I rememebr correctly! At least get your facts straight before stating such ridiculous things.
    Hows that for a shred (not shread)

  • Comment number 42.

    It's great that M. Ali is being lauded in this way, if there is one example of a man paying his dues then it is M. Ali. It's only fair considering what he went through and that he was hated by so much of white America In terms of his boxing Ali is the greatest heavyweight in history, but most boxing pundits tend to give the p4p crown to SRR with Ali coming in second (at least that's how Ring Magazine ranked it). I really hope that the Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight can live up to the hype and recreate some of the magic of the Ali fights of yesteryear, goodness knows the sport needs. Happy Birthday to the GREATEST Mohammed Ali may you continue to live long and enjoy your life

  • Comment number 43.

    39.At 14:21 18th Jan 2012, froch carl wrote:
    "No one has come up with one shread of evidence debunking my points."
    Oh that is so easy, watch.

    "For starters take woods(his is half thai, not black like david bond poorly put),"
    Now, try to remember that Tiger's Father was African/American and then look at the colour of his face and then remember that Asian is not a colour.
    "Laughing out very loudly in your direction."

  • Comment number 44.

    39.At 14:21 18th Jan 2012, froch carl wrote:
    "No one has come up with one shread of evidence debunking my points."
    Ding, Ding, round 2

    "Facts are ali fought guys smaller than him,"
    Ali......207.5 lbs
    Liston 218 lbs

    Froch, throw the towel in, you're out of your depth.

  • Comment number 45.

    39.At 14:21 18th Jan 2012, froch carl wrote:
    "No one has come up with one shread of evidence debunking my points."

    "If clazaghe was a member of the BNP he would be banned from boxing. But its ok for ali to hurl racist abuse at michael parkinson, and want seperation between races???"
    “Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn't matter which color does the hating. It's just plain wrong.”
    ― Muhammad Ali The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey

    Easy. easy, easy.

  • Comment number 46.

    39.At 14:21 18th Jan 2012, froch carl wrote:
    "No one has come up with one shread of evidence debunking my points.
    Vitali literally destroys everyone"

    Go and lie down in a darkened room.

  • Comment number 47.

    @39 froch Carl,

    Mate, firstly, your proficiency in the English language is barely adequate, no-one is going to take someone who can't spell "shred" seriously. You don't seem like an intelligent person, no offence. Anyway, the things you're spouting in an attempt to undermine Ali's legacy are just wrong.

    BTW, you blame David Bond for getting Tiger's ethnicity wrong, yet you've got it wrong at least two or three times just on this article. You claimed his mother was Vietnamese... Clearly you have no idea what you're talking about, so pot, kettle.

    Ali couldn't beat Klitschko? Hahahahahahahahahahahaha, that's actually one of the funniest, ignorant statements I've ever heard regarding sports in my life.

    A past-his-prime Muhammad Ali (almost 33 at the time) KO'd an undefeated, 25 year-old George Foreman. Foreman went the distance with a prime Evander Holyfield (one of the best modern heavyweights) as an out of shape 42 year old man. There is absolutely no question that Ali, in his prime (which was unfairly cut short), would have beaten Klitschko.

    And if you can't recognise that Ali fought in boxing's golden era, you are either in denial, or just plain foolish. Klitschko fights in a cupcake era, that's a fact.

    How did Ali rob Norton 3 times, if he only won two of them? You moron.

    Don't ever mention Klitschko in the same breath as Ali. No matter how tall Vitali may be, even a prime Foreman, or Frazier, would have beaten him.

    We never actually saw Ali at his physical peak, because of his license being taken away from him unfairly. Ali didn't have the best technique and he certainly wasn't the strongest, but he is, hands down, the greatest fighter of all time, Ali never backed down from a challenge.

    As for Ali outside of the boxing ring, neither you nor I know what he was like, but the guy grew up in the 40s & the 50s in a heavily segregated environment, so of course, to someone living in this day and age, his views will seem extreme etc. But comparing his Islamic beliefs to the BNP is really just asinine on your part. You've completely taken Ali's actions out of context. This is 2012, Ali was from an entirely different era/generation.

    Your illiterate attempt at tarnishing Ali's legacy is laughable. Klitschko? Pfft.

  • Comment number 48.

    "If clazaghe was a member of the BNP he would be banned from boxing. But its ok for ali to hurl racist abuse at michael parkinson, and want seperation between races???"

    You can't spell Calzaghe, you can't spell "separation", you say "racist abuse" when you mean "racial abuse" and you compare the BNP of present day, to Ali and his Islamic beliefs and his supposedly racist actions from decades ago? You're trying to suggest that there is some double standard... To establish a double standard, two events have to occur in the SAME ERA.

    You, sir, are genuinely a fool (I have much stronger words to describe you with, however "fool" should suffice here).

    Here is an analogy:

    "If I had a slave now, I'd be sent to prison, but it was OK for people back in the 19th Century?"

    Do you not see how stupid your statement is? You can't apply modern practices/logic to events from a previous era, especially when the person being discussed is from the pre-Civil Rights Movement era.

  • Comment number 49.

    40.At 14:25 18th Jan 2012, froch carl wrote:
    and btw jick nickaluas is the greatest golfer ever...won 18 majors in a period with tom watson,palmer, gary player lee travino etc etc


    Oh really? Wow, that's REALLY relevant and interesting and enlightening.

    You like golf? Good. Stick to it, because you clearly, without a SHRED (not shread) of doubt, know absolutely nothing about boxing.

    I don't even know why I'm replying to you, it's analogous to arguing with a stubborn, misinformed, ignorant child.

    Ali was a true fighter, inside the ring he was fearless and outside the ring he had exactly the same amount of courage when he stood up for what he believed in.

    You on the other hand, are illiterate and of questionable intelligence. And you're also attempting to slander one of the most iconic men of the past 100 years.

    The mere fact that you even mentioned Klitschko, never mind your obscene suggestion that he'd beat Ali in his prime, lost you all credibility.

    You are also arrogant and pretentious to the extent that you believe your unbelievably ludicrous opinions to be facts; as evidenced by your haughty remark (which by the way did nothing but show people just how illiterate you are):

    "No one has come up with one shread of evidence debunking my points."

    I've come across 4 year-old children who can spell the word "shred".

    You wouldn't even be fit to evaluate the literacy skills of a child in primary school... What in the world makes you think you're fit to assess Muhammad Ali as a boxer or as a human being? The fact that you think you're correct is the funniest, most bizarre part of it all.

    The end.

  • Comment number 50.

    I witnessed Ali ( when he was still Cassius Clay) giving a lecture to graduate students at LSE in the early 70's - he was very charismatic and great to hear and obviously - a lovely man - unfortunately he was a total bigot and espoused his belief that black men should not marry white women. I admire what he has since achieved but at that time I felt he had a lot to learn not sure what his current views are on this issue.


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