The death of Muhammad Ali on June 4 is generating many warm reflections, especially from those who met and admired him, as did I.
Illustrating his lasting legacy across the world are memories sampled below.
Some are from the sports world, including from two-time world heavyweight champion George Foreman, Ali’s most famous surviving opponent. Another is from boxing historian Thomas Hauser.
Ali’s impact transcends sports, as Foreman eloquently stated in several Tweets soon after Ali’s death. They shared full range of emotions as gladiators in one sport’s most iconic battles, the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” title fight in Zaire, memorably portrayed in the documentary When We Kings.
That fight, featuring the apogee of Ali’s tactic of “Rope a Dope” to wear out an opponent by leaning on ropes to absorb punishment, helped make Ali one of the world’s popular public figures for many years — and likely helped induce the Parkinson’s disease that afflicted him for the last 30 years.
Included below also is a remarkable CBS News video introduced by anchor Walter Cronkite showing Ali saving a man’s life as a Good Samaritan in 1981 by talking the troubled man out of jumping from a ninth-floor ledge in Los Angeles.
Also recalled below are other instinctive acts of charity and boldness by Ali, as when he declined to meet President Clinton in the White House unless the president reversed an arrogant aide’s sudden decision to exclude Hauser from a 1996 celebrity gathering in the Oval Office.
The power of these and other expert treatments cited below far outstrip my own experiences. But mine provide context that helps illustrate larger lessons. For one thing, we see from Ali’s life how each of us have the ability to learn from others, whether we have met in person or only by reputation.
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