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Favorite Athlete: Muhammad Ali

I am asked to keep it short. Fewer than 100 words. On Muhammad Ali? I wrote a book on him, 128,000 words. I can do this. Best athlete I ever saw, ever will see. Smartest man in every room, couldn’t spell. Cruel when his game demanded he be cruel, kind every day of his life. Anyway, my cardiologist knows I love Ali. I do a stress test. Doc’s report: “You float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Ali, too, could keep it short. At Harvard graduation ceremony, 1975, someone asked for a poem. Ali answered, “Me, whee!”
— Dave Kindred is one of the greatest ever American sportswriters, as his induction into the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame suggests. He has written nine books including this fantastic one on Ali and Howard Cosell. Thanks to the most excellent Sports on Earth we can still read him regularly.
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6 Responses to Favorite Athlete: Muhammad Ali

  1. doc says:

    What I’m struck by so far is that, except for Kuiper and Hazewood, *all* the favorites are superstars. That’s not representative of what I expected. I expected a fair number of favorites who were locally important or notable, but not “important” athletes. People who were maybe outstanding HS or college athletes, who mattered to the people who saw them then. But I guess not…

  2. For me favorite athlete is Cristiano Ronaldo, you know what most of the football news stays around him.

  3. I would say Pele is the greatest athlete due to his longevity and the fact that no one can come close to the total number of goals he has scored..If ever you would have seen him play live, as I did, he would just amaze..And is bicycle kicks..priceless.

  4. As they chant all over the world…..Ali, Ali, Ali.

  5. Maybe I am a bit biased I was growing up in England we had two pairs of boxing gloves and we would spar each other and we all wanted to be Ali

    Ali for me!

  6. Ali is the only athlete of my time who had a major effect on the world outside of sports. When he refused to take one step forward when he was drafted, it changed how millions of black and young people felt about the Vietnam War. There were others, of course. But he was the only athlete of top stature to do it, and he paid a very, very stiff price for it. We know, now, that the war was continuing at that point only because the deluded old men who started it couldn’t figure out how to stop it, even though they knew it was lost. I don’t know if Ali knew all that. But when he refused to be part of it, everybody had to take notice.

    Jackie Robinson and Billie Jean King also had some effect but Ali’s was by far the greatest.

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