As I listen to journalists and sports-talk radio hosts talk about the greatest fighter of all time, I keep thinking I understand the appeal of Donald Trump.
Just look at some of these juicy quotes:
Clay was 18: bounding, fearless, leading with his mouth.
“I’m not only a fighter. I’m a poet; I’m a prophet; I’m the resurrector; I’m the savior of the boxing world. If it wasn’t for me, the game would be dead,” he said.
Young Clay made boxing an art form. He was an original, a heavyweight who didn’t move around the ring — he danced. He’d thrill the crowd with his quick scissor-step shuffle. On defense, he’d slip and slide, Dundee said, and then flick that jab.
“He had a jab that was like a snake,” he said.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee; rumble, young man, rumble. Boxing reporters never had so much fun.
So Ali, though seemingly a good guy on numerous fronts, was a tad egotistical. Did that cost him with the media?
And then he could be pretty divisive:
After the Liston fight, Ali revealed he was a member of the black separatist movement Nation of Islam. He wanted to be called Muhammad Ali, a name he said was given to him by the group’s leader, Elijah Muhammad.
“That’s my original name; that’s a black man name,” Ali said. “Cassius Clay was my slave name. I’m no longer a slave.”
Muhammad, the Nation of Islam leader, preached that integration and intermarriage were wrong and that white people were devils. It was an idea Ali defended in a 1971 TV interview.
“I’m gonna look at two or three white people who’re trying to do right and don’t see the other million trying to kill me? I’m not that big of a fool, and I’m not going to deny it,” he said. “I believe everything he [Muhammad] teach, and if the white people of a country are not the devil, then they should prove they’re not the devil.”
Ali became a polarizing figure in America.
Again, did that cost Ali his reputation?
So I wander as I wonder.