Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Saturday, 4 June 2016

Why all the fawning over Ali?

Following his death, am I the only one who wonders why there is so much fawning over Muhammad Ali, formerly known as Cassius Clay, his familial name.
Despite his being a gifted fighter, he won an Olympic gold medal in Rome, let us not forget that the 'Louisville Lip's' biggest asset was his mouth and his ability to irritate his opponents with his pathetic verses. 'I dance like a butterfly and sting like a bee' was dreadful as was all his posturing, and his elevation to some Godlike figure betrays the honesty and skill of all those boxers who were genuinely braver and better. Even President Obama has weighed in with a tribute, praising a man who used his conversion to Islam as an excuse to escape the draft. Talk about brave; whilst other proud US men and women responded to the call to fight he opted out, suffering only the loss of his titles. To some people, he should have been awarded the merit of three white feathers.
That was bad enough but to hear the fawning praises of English commentators like Michael Parkinson and Piers Morgan is sickening when he cheated England's own hero Henry Cooper out of a win. Despite weighing two stone lighter, Cooper's famous left hook dumped Ali on his arse, only to see the american saved by the bell. His corner team then managed to extend the time of the interval to allow Ali to recover. His victory, because of eye damage, a perennial problem with Cooper, was, to my mind, a miscarriage of justice but it didn't stop the Ali bandwagon from promoting the 'story' that was Ali.
There is no doubt that his success in the ring also led to the illness that finally ended his earthly bout. His record of five defeats and the odour of a possible cheat suggests he wasn't the best ever fighter but there was a special 'something' about the man which captivated a boxing audience fed up with a succession of 17 stone plus, lumbering US heavyweight champions. He can be lauded for shaking up the heavyweight scene but please, do not place him in the Pantheon of boxing greats.

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