05 June 2016

6/3/16 - The Greatest (Mohammad Ali)

Mohammad Ali died today. I'm thinking his last days (or even years) have been mostly pain and suffering, both physically and mentally. So it is probably a blessing for him to finally be in peace. I feel so much empathy for his wife and children and all those that loved him. Brings tears to my eyes. He was an inspiration to the world, no matter what shade your skin color might be.

I met him in person once. Must have been over 30 years ago when he was in his prime. There was a midnight flight each night out of Detroit to New York on Northwest Airlines. I checked him in and just a few minutes later he was laying on his back on the floor. Not in pain, but in gleeful delight. He was wrestling with the kids in the waiting area. Giving them horsey rides on his upraised knees. Totally oblivious to the adults incredulously watching him with their children. There were smiles all around. It was an endearing sight that I will never forget.

I was trying to find some royalty free pix to put on the site and came across a number of stamps from various countries. Just goes to show you how much he was loved all over the world. Getting your pix on a stamp is a BIG deal.

The one I found from the US was printed with his birth name of  Cassius Clay. The others all say Mohammad Ali. I found stamps from Austria (shown above), several from United Arab Emirates, Dagestan (part of old Russia), Laos, Togo, Zaire, Guinea, Malawi, Tajikistan, and Maldives. I'm sure there are more.

I do not have to tell his tale of success over black suppression as a child, rising from nothing to greatness. A man with a peaceful soul who would not be swayed from his beliefs even though it meant great monetary sacrifice. He was not only a champion in boxing, but a champion for racial and religious equality and human rights. He was a shining star and an inspiration to so many.

June 10, 2016 - Ali's Funeral:

(information gleaned from TV news and online articles)

Today was 74-year old Mohammad Ali's funeral in his home town of Louisville, Kentucky. The funeral procession was 19-miles long with residents and visitors lining the streets. "Ali, Ali" was chanted by some on-lookers, while others fell silent and bowed their heads as the hearse passed by. A profusion of flowers were thrown onto the hearse. "We love you" banners, or the like, were abundant. 

Many dignitaries such as King Abdullah of Jordan and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, personality Arnold Schwarzenegger, director Spike Lee, boxing promoter Don King, football great James Brown, and soccer star David Beckham were among those attending in the funeral. Some 18,000 fans were also able to get free tickets to the funeral held at a local stadium. Pallbearers included boxing champs Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis, and actor Will Smith, who played Ali in the 2001 film "Ali," as well as some of Ali's nine children.

Other world champ boxers expected to attend were George Forman, Larry Holmes, Sugar Ray Leonard, Bernard Hopkins, and boxing promoter Bob Arum.

Eulogies were made by Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and others speakers. U.S. Past President Bill Clinton spoke and top advisor Valerie Jarrett made a statement on behalf of President Barack Obama. (Obama could not attend in person as today was also his oldest daughter Malia's high school graduation.) 

James Brown, comedian Billy Crystal, sports commentator Bryant Gumbel, and Ali's wife Lonnie also spoke. Words were said to remind us all of the senselessness of war and the inequities of racial injustice--things Ali believed in and worked to change.

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