To all the ships at sea,
I have started this blog ten times and ten times I could not write it, I could not see it, and I could not feel it. It just didn’t work. In 1971, I scalped a ticket for the first Ali-Frazier fight. In 1974, I had a credential for upstairs but was thrown out and then had to move around the Garden every half round from one vomitorium to another. (Yes, it’s a vomitorium.) I would love to tell you that Ali was a very close friend of mine, but if I did that then I would be lying. I photographed him three or four times. I ran into him in Vegas and Atlantic City. One time I met him with Bert Sugar and he went right past Bert and said, “Hey Joe D., how are you?” just to tick off the Bertster. Like many great people, Ali transcended all boxing, sports, religion. Conscientious objector, the man had amazing intellect, speed of hand and eye, and a huge heart. He was absolutely the greatest and still is. I called Bert 17 years ago and asked him if we could call Ali to call to my son’s fourth grade class. Bert said, “Let me see what I can do.” Sure enough, he got Ali to call. Amazing stuff, amazing memories. I will miss him and the world will miss him, too. I guess he’s going to have a field day with Angelo Dundee, Bert Sugar, Budd Schulberg, and Joe Frazier. They won’t be drinking (okay, except for Bert and Budd) but they will be talking boxing. I wish I was a fly on the wall in heaven. You know what I find interesting? I laughed when he changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali. After that initial giggle, I never gave it another thought. I hope that makes sense. Rest in peace, Muhammad.
Please see the video (linked below) by an old friend of mine from Sports Illustrated, Bill Nack- it says it all. He’s a professional writer, I am not.