Former 3-time world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali fights on as he celebrates his 73rd birthday Today (Saturday). His foes “have moved on” like “Smokin” Joe Frazier who would have been 71 on the 12th of this month having passed away in 2011 at age 67. Ali’s other 3-fight opponent Ken Norton passed away in 2013 at age 70. Just this past Tuesday another opponent Ernie Terrell passed at age 75.
Ali had a 56-5 record with 37 knockouts having defended his title 19 times while holding the undisputed, the WBC and the WBA titles. He was recognized as the world champion by many even in his last fight in 1981. There were two Ali’s in this writers mind with the one from 1960 to 1967 without a doubt one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time if not the very best! Ali was 31-0 with 9 defenses having won the title from Sonny Liston in 1964.
The former 1960 Olympic Gold medalist was trained by Angelo Dundee his entire career. He returned to the ring in 1970 after a 31/2 year absence with a pair of wins over solid contenders Jerry Quarry and Oscar Bonavena pushing his record to 33-0 before he tasted defeat for the first time against Frazier. If they met in 1967 it would have been a complete difference result!
Ali was without a doubt the most recognized person in the world. To say that about a boxer is incredible today. I viewed an old “This is Your Life” episode filmed in the UK of Ali’s life recently. He was a world champion in and out of the ring!
Recently I took a trip to his old camp site at Deer Lake, PA, which is now a Bed & Breakfast names “after him” called the “Butterfly and the Bee!” It is on Route 61 not far from Reading, PA.
Ali defeated many a champion in his career such as Archie Moore, Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson, Ernie Terrell, Jimmy Ellis, Bob Foster, Ken Norton, Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Leon Spinks.
Ali plans to celebrate with his family at one of his homes. He returned to the hospital Thursday (and discharged on Friday) per family spokesman Bob Gunnell for some follow-up care where he was discharged recently after going in on December 20th for a urinary tract infection.
Everyone’s prayers will be needed to keep the “champion” continuing his good will that he has spread since his retirement in many places in the world.
Please send all questions and comments to Ken Hissner at: Kenhissner@gmail.com
Ken Hissner responds to all his emails at: email@example.com