Today I saw the greatest athlete that I have ever seen shambling about in Manchester like a drunk. When I was a young man he was the most charismatic, athletic, talented, principled man that bestrode my generation like a collossus. He almost single handedly changed the face of the United States.
The reason for my post is that my hero is only five months older than me. We grew up together. I remember him winning the gold medal in the 1960 Olympics when he beat up the European champion. When he beat up Sonny Liston to gain the World Heavyweight Championship I was ecstatic. He then took on the United States government by refusing to be drafted to Vietnam.
By the time that he was allowed to return to the ring his best days had gone. In 1972I was serving with the army in Berlin when we discovered by proxy that there was a satellite communication which would deliver his fight with Joe Frazier into our house.
What a fight! But I must admit I was now thirty and he lost the fight and it was at that moment when I realised that I had lost my youth. This is the reason that Mohammed means so much to my generation. We aged with him but he continued to fight and we celebrated with him as he came back not just once but time and time again.
My wife thinks that in comparison with my hero Mohammed Ali that I have health and he has nothing. I think that nobody can ever repeat what he has done and his plight today is testimony to what he has given the world. Would I exchange my current health with his for the fame? There is only one Ali and I believe that there will ever be only one Ali but today I am in good nick! What a question!