Muhammad Ali was undeniably the greatest boxer of the 20th Century. The heavyweight regarded his Manila match with Joe Frazier as 'the closest thing to death’ as his greatest fight and his recapturing the title against George Foreman in Zaire as his greatest upset. These boxers sacrificed their body and soul during these combats and Ali’s slurred speech has been a painful reminder of boxing’s deadly effects on the brain.
In 1996 Muhammad Ali was invited to Indonesia by the president's corrupt son, Tommy Suharto, to view a championship bout.
My friend Abe had attended a Jakarta party in his honor and he later said that he had been appalled by Ali’s deterioration, especially when Ali came up to him and said, “You look like my Uncle Ernie.”
Abe was a short white Jewish guy from Brooklyn.
He almost cried hearing Ali say these words.
Sic transit gloria mundi.
Fame was fleeting, but Ali wasn’t through with Abe.
At the end of the festivities Ali shuffled behind Abe and whispered, “And my Uncle Ernie was ugly too.”
Abe had to laugh, for like many fighters and the US government he had underestimated the Kentucky native.
The body might be weak, but the floating butterfly had not lost its sting.