Former Olympic and heavyweight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali dies
Even with battling Parkinson’s disease for over 30 years, his use of the English language was something that will never be equaled
Some members of the media referred to Muhammad Ali (the former Cassius Clay for the early Baby Boomer generation) as “the Michael Jordan of his era.” That may be true, but what His Airness did in actions on the basketball court, the man forever to be known as simply, “The Greatest”–did in both action in the boxing ring and in the words that he spoke, especially to any ABC Sports microphone that was present during the heyday of Wide World of Sports.
He even managed to steal the headlines twice in the Summer Olympics, winning gold as an 18 year old at the 1960 Games in Rome and again in 1996–taking the final leg of the torch relay from then swimming queen Janet Evans in Atlanta before he started a special pulley to ignite the torch starting the Centennial Games.
You didn’t have to be a boxing fan or understand anything about the sport to understand what kind of man he was. Even though Parkinson’s disease took away his ability to walk and sometimes slurred his speech, anytime you were in his presence–you saw royalty and he commanded a simple respect words alone could not process. ESPN’s Jeremy Schapp penned an excellent, yet important obituary which should be noted also that in 1999, a SportsCentury poll had Ali number 2 in their Fifty Greatest Athletes countdown. We all know who was voted number one that year.
Elizabeth Vargas and GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts broke in with the news on Friday night in this ABC News report: