While I’m putting the finishing touching on the regular weekly post, I just wanted to put up a brief one to pay my respects to Muhammad Ali.
I’m not a boxing fan, but he loomed large in my 1970s childhood, as he loomed large everywhere. My best friend and I would make cassette recordings of ourselves pretending to be Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell (though, steeped in satirical comedy as we were, we would be “Coward Hosell”) doing interviews, reciting Ali’s famous lines: “I’m the black Superman…. I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee…” When a black boxing champion has white suburban girls doing their best impressions of him – well, that’s some reach.
I’ve been hearing and reading tributes to him today, and there was a lot that I missed back in the Coward Hosell days. Ali wasn’t a perfect man, but his life was an ongoing effort to do good and be his best. Further, he was an outsized personality who wasn’t afraid to be as big as he was in a world that, frankly, does its level best to deflate people who don’t happen to be white men. The world was a better place because he was in it.
My sympathies go out to his family, his many friends, and his long-time fans. To Ali himself, respect and peace.