Tribute To Muhammad Ali On His 70th Birthday
He’s been quoted as saying he was the greatest before he even knew he was, but beloved American hero Muhammad Ali, who turns 70 today, has always been a champion in the eyes and hearts of his fans.
One of the greatest fighters the world has seen and a civil rights activist who put action to his words, Ali has fought another battle—with the debilitating Parkinson’s disease—over the past 18 years that has gained him a newfound respect across the world.
“He made it (boxing) part theatre, part dance and all power. He was really something unique,” said President Bill Clinton when speaking on Ali to BBC Sport today:
“And then when he risked it all to oppose the Vietnam war, in a funny way it could have destroyed him. But it didn’t because people realised he had been very forthright and he was prepared to pay the price for his convictions. He could say ‘I’m not mouthing off about this, this is the way I’m prepared to live and prepared to pay whatever the consequences are for standing up for what I believe in’. That, over the long run, made him even more fans. It’s that kind of courage which he has manifested for as long as I’ve known him, and in dealing with his own illness.
“It took a sack full of guts to carry that Olympic flame up that ramp the last distance with his hands shaking in 1996 (in Atlanta), but he did it. And it’s taken a lot of courage to continue to go out, to be seen, he wasn’t self conscious. He’s something special.
“One day when we were together it hit me—and we have spent lots of time together over the last several years—the courage he has showed, as an older man. Struggling with Parkinsons he has shown a different kind of, and perhaps a greater courage than he showed as a young man risking having his body, face and brain battered by the shock of boxing.”