Saturday, June 11, 2016


        Muhammed Ali was buried yesterday in Louisville, Kentucky.
       The world has been remembering his remarkable life and mourning his death. Everyone who ever met him has a special story to tell. I never met Ali or even saw him in person, but I followed his amazing career, watched many of his fights on television, laughed at his antics, had mixed emotions about his changing his name and switching religions, was impressed by his sense of justice and principled stand against the Vietnam War, and admired his many contributions to humanitarian causes.
        But for me the most memorable moment of Ali's storied career was not the famous "rumble in the jungle" and his stunning knockout of George Foreman, nor any of his other victories in the ring, nor any of his quotable rhymes or defiant statements. For me it was his lighting of the Olympic flame at the start of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. 
        His participation in the ceremony had been a carefully guarded secret, and when he appeared on the elevated stand where the light was to take place, visible to all on the huge screens, held high the torch in his trembling hands, and then lit the Olympic flame, as his entire body was shaking from his advanced Parkinson's disease, the roar of approval from the momentarily stunned spectators was deafening. I suspect that among the millions around the world who were watching the event on television, many were struggling hard to hold back the tears.
        I was one of them.

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