It was 2003 or 2004.
It was the build up or the aftermath of Mike Tyson’s late fight. If I remember correctly.
Mike Tyson was a super famous athlete at the time, along with Michael Jordan. People would literally stop anything they are doing to watch him fight.
I was 9-10 years old. I didn’t know about boxing at all. But I knew Tyson. I heard his name everywhere. TV show, ads, my Dad, etc.
Boxing channel was all about Tyson. They highlighted all of his fights in his build up fight. Especially, his old career, the man who knocked out opponent after opponent in the first 1-2 round.
I was looking at the highlights and thought that he was what he really was in the highlight, the scary unbeatable monster with big, hard biceps and neck.
But the build up fight itself was actually about the old crack version of Tyson vs Nobody. Tyson was already a beaten champion.
I remember saying to my dad, who also didn’t know nothing about boxing anyway:
- Me: this dude is scary as hell Dad!
- Dad: Tyson was awesome
- Me: Yeah, nobody can beat him
- Dad: there was another famous and super great boxer who wouldn’t knock his opponent out in the first 1-2 rounds like Tyson. He would dance around and entertain the audience for 10-15 round and then knock his opponent out.
- Me: Who?
- Dad: He was Muhammad Ali and he is a Muslim.
- Me: where he was now Dad? why we didn’t hear about him
- Dad: he is suffering some kind of stroke now, poor guy couldn’t talk and walk because of many punches to the head.
It was funny to think about it as I grow older. Because at the time I thought my Dad knew a lot about boxing. But he didn’t. He just like telling stories to let you know that he knew what he was watching or what he was talking about. That was just my Dad.
I remember the day after, I ran to the book store and look for a book about this man Muhammad Ali. But I didn’t find it, instead, I found a book called “100 greatest athlete“. The list of great sport figures.
There was Michael Jordan, Pele, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, etc.
Here it is, Muhammad Ali! I said to myself.
I read and read and gained some new knowledge about Ali, which were:
- Muhammad Ali was not born with the name Muhammad Ali. He was Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr in his first 22 years of life.
- He was asked to fight in a war in the Vietnam?? I was confused on why should he go to war. I remember thinking that Muhammad Ali was so great that he would be a big threat to opponents with guns.
Pretty much it. That was the big picture I got about Ali at the time.
Then, I ran back home and told my dad as soon as I saw him
- Me: Dad! you know the name that Ali was born with?
- Dad: Yes!
- Me: His name was Cassius Clay and he was a catholic before he was a muslim
- Dad: Uh uh
- Me: He was listed as one of the greatest if not the greatest heavyweight champion of all time! even more than Tyson
- Dad: ————
From there on. It had been on and off to watch or read Muhammad Ali.
I never forget how unique, brash, charismatic, and comedic this man was. Muhammad Ali was really those combination and I can’t even put a better words to describe how I looked at him at the time. And still we are not seeing anybody like him now.
I never knew so much about Ali and his life. But he was definitely one of great figures I’ve ever been looking up to.
to be continued on part II.