Obituary,  Sports

Remembering Muhammad Ali

“I am the greatest. I am the king of the world.”

“Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee.”

“Rope-a-dope.” (The strategy of leaning back in the ropes and letting your opponent wear himself out before going in for the knockout.)

“The Ali Shuffle will make you hustle.” (My brother used to say this a lot, for some reason.)

All these phrases are lodged in my brain, probably for the rest of my life, thanks to the great Muhammad Ali, who died Thursday at 74. There’s never been anyone remotely like him.

Like many people, I suppose, I have a slightly shameful fascination with boxing. While fully grasping the horrible physical and mental damage it can do to its participants (as was evident with Ali after his retirement from the sport), I can’t help marveling at the incredible skill and stamina of the best. And Ali, whatever else you can say about him, was one of the best. He lived up to his own hype.

And while the former Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali after joining the anti-white Nation of Islam, and he was for a time an outspoken opponent of “Zionism,” he seems to have become more tolerant in his later years.

As I noted back in 2012, when Ali’s grandson celebrated his bar mitzvah, Ali was pleased to attend the ceremony.


Maybe Jacob will become part of a new generation of Jewish boxers.

During the late 1920s and early 1930s several sports historians believe that over one third of the American professional boxers of that period were Jewish.