Any words of comment about Muhammad Ali following his recent death seem superfluous, almost irrelevant to the 24/7 media coverage and commentary on the boxing career, life and legend of his extraordinary person and unique human being.
For a few days following the news of his passing, all other national and international news seemed secondary, almost irrelevant.
The NBA Playoff Finals between our Golden State. Warriors and The Cleveland Cavaliers provides us with some sense of the real world other than Muhammad Ali. Don't mistake me for what I am saying, Ali deserves our attention, reflection and adoration
I am writing my autobiographical memoirs, A PENCIL AND A DOLLAR BILL. One chapter describes my work and experiences with the promoter John Daly and his Hemdale Corp in London, in 1974 in connection with financing the production, and satellite television distribution of Ali's heavyweight championship bout with George Foreman, October 30, 1974, from Kinshasa, Zaire (now The Democratic Republic of the Congo). This bout was a high point in Ali's boxing career after the US Supreme Court unanimously restored his license to fight again, after three years during which he was banned from boxing.
The following is an excerpt from the chapter in my book, still being written, about that event:
Of all of the memorable experiences in Zaire, watching Ali working out in a gym stands out along with my foolish acceptance of his invitation to jog with him early in the morning as part of his training routine. Ali would wear military like combat boots and sweat pants with weights around his ankles. After about three miles, at a moderate pace wearing sneakers and wearing jogging shorts, I would tire, but continued until the end of our five-mile jog. Ali would just keep jogging at the same pace like an implacable energizer bunny.
When we returned to the gym Ali then commenced to do 500 sit ups.
The weather before the fight was oppressive as the rainy season was fast approaching. The ropes of the ring had stretched in the heat and the songe mat had softened. Anglo Dundee, Ali's trainer believed this would it harder for Ali to move about. The mood in Ali's camp, earlier before the fight and gone from anxiety as to whether or not Forman could seriously ill, if not kill, Ali. The mood now it began to darken, except for the most ardent Ali fans.
The fighters entered the ring at 4:00 AM in the morning, to allow the satellite feeds to the US to be shown in Prime Time. The attendance in the stadium was estimated at 60,000. Mobutu watched the match on TV from his compound. Rumor had it that he did not come to the stadium for fear of assassination.
There was pandemonium in the stadium when we entered. People, especially boxing fans, which like soccer fans have a unique quality of their own. Several people had traveled from various countries in Europe, in addition to those from the United States and Canada. Some people were dressed in attention getting attire, such as capes, straw hats, shorts and boots, all sorts of outer wear costume and some apparently real glittering jewelry. . I sat in the eighth-row, ringside; as I watched the fight my initial sensation was gloom. I said to myself: this really MIGHT be Ali's last fight. I was praying and hoping Ali would win, but thought that if he did, it would be a miracle and an upset.
Yet, as I watched Ali, I knew I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to see up close and personal the most extraordinary grace, elegance and artistry in boxing that would probably never ever be seen again. I was spellbound as I watched Ali repeatedly go to the ropes, deliberately after he entered the ring to resume a round of boxing. I began to wonder whether or not I was watching some grand new defense/offensive boxing strategy unfolding that I had never seen anyone, let alone Ali, engage in before.
I don't remember which round but in the last rounds of the 15 round match it appeared Ali was using the ropes to absorb and deflect many of Ali's punches and that during the process Foreman was slowing down and showing physical fatigue, almost lightheaded as if he was boxing in slow motion.
Then, all of a sudden there was a flurry of punches by Ali which knocked Foreman down to the canvas. He was unable to get up in time before the referee called it a "knock out" and Ali the winner. Pandemonium broke out in the stadium.
Spontaneously, a few others and I sitting at ringside jumped out of our seats and ran into the ring to hug and congratulate Ali.
On the way back to the hotel on the bus, it was daylight and early morning. Thousands of people were lined up along the route of our busses, shouting "Ali Boma Ye" and yelling and cheering at our busses. It seemed as if all of Kinshasa was celebrating Ali's victory.
Muhammad Ali was more than just a boxing champion. He was man for all seasons, poignantly remembered as he lit the flame on July 19th, 1996 for the Summer the Olympic Games showing the evident impact and progress of his Parkinson's disease.
We shall always remember you, my dear beloved brother.