Birthday message to Muhammad Ali from the Brooklyn Monk

In Uncategorized on January 19, 2013 at 12:38 pm

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Happy 71st Birthday to Muhammad Ali, the man who has inspired me, both in and out of the ring for a lifetime. A reluctant leader of the race movement and protestor of the Vietnam War, Ali had his license stripped and his title was auctioned off in a tournament which resulted in, for the first time in history, two undefeated world champions, setting the stage for what has been called the greatest fight in history. Ali came back to win the title a record 3 times. Any sane person would have retired after the Foreman fight, a true Cinderella story, but Ali went on to fight Frazier for the third time in Manila, in one of the greatest fights in all of boxing. At the millennium, when sports writers were asked to pick the 10 greatest fights in boxing history, 3 were Muhammad Ali fights: Ali vs. Liston 1, The Rumble in the Jungle, and the Thriller in Manila.

Toward the end of the 1980’s, long after he had stopped fighting, several independent surveys went around the world, showing people photos of famous sports figures, politicians, world leaders…Ali was the single most recognized person on the planet.

When Ali turned 70, sportswriters were asked to rate Ali’s greatest life achievements. Number five, least important, on the list was that he had won a gold medal in the Olympics. A survey once asked athletes if they would be willing to take a pill that would win them the Olympic gold, but they would die the next day, and 50% said “yes”, they would.

And for Ali, that was just one of five major accomplishments.

No single person has ever defined boxing the way Ali did. Probably no sport in history has ever been so closely associated with a single athlete.

God bless you, Muhammad Ali

Antonio (Brooklyn Monk) Graceffo

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