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Ali « Ted's Polish-Mexican Page

Ali

Categories: Rumination
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Published on: June 4, 2016

I’ve been reading a lot of quickie tributes to Mohammad Ali, and many of them talk about how difficult it is to imagine what a big deal Ali was in those days. One big reason is that boxing isn’t the cultural force it was when Ali was in his prime. My first years of being aware of the world around me came after many of the controversies around him subsided. He even had a Saturday morning cartoon by that point. It also came after the peak of his powers. That didn’t stop us from rooting for him. We had to, he was the greatest, right?

I can’t remember if we actually watched the Spinks fight at the house (my dad was a boxing fan), but I knew the result and we talked about it the next day at school. We were in third grade, so we weren’t the most keen analysts. We were just ticked off that someone would dare beat Ali.

I didn’t know what a divisive figure he was until later. I knew he was Muslim (the first one I was aware of). I just thought of him as a hero. Of course, as I grew up, I learned that many of those things that made folks uncomfortable with him made him even more of a hero.

At the Democratic Convention in 1992, Ali appeared at an event for Martin Luther King III, who was running for office that year. I couldn’t get in, the place was packed. I don’t think all those people were there to see MLK’s kid.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

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