‘So they rang him up in his room.
And he said ‘alright – tell Mr McKenzie to come up and see me’.’
When McKenzie got to his room he said Ali had a big smile on his face and told him he remembered him from the photo.
McKenzie had his son with him and he told Ali his shy son wanted to be a boxer.
Ali proceeded to put his fists up and pose with him – pretending to box his son.
During that same visit McKenzie invited him to come and dine at the restaurant he worked at in Henderson.
He was singing there regularly to pay off his second mortgage.
‘He said yes – so later I went to the hotel and told him to come with me – his entourage followed my car to the Palomino Restaurant’ said McKenzie.
They closed down the restaurant to the public while Ali and his entourage were there and McKenzie sang – like he’d been doing for three years at the Henderson restaurant.
‘He enjoyed my singing so much that he picked up his wife and danced on the dancing floor’.
(ed:..it almost makes you want to go out on a little pilgrimage to henderson..to try to find the palomino restaurant..to stand and imagine..eh..?..)
Not the rumbles – the reverberations.
The death of Muhammad Ali will undoubtedly move people’s minds to his epic boxing matches against Joe Frazier and George Foreman or there will be retrospectives about his epic ‘rumbles’ against racism and war.
But it’s the reverberations that we have to understand in order to see Muhammad Ali as what he remains: the most important athlete to ever live.
It’s the reverberations that are our best defense against real-time efforts to pull out his political teeth and turn him into a harmless icon suitable for mass consumption.
When Dr. Martin Luther King came out against the war in Vietnam in 1967 he was criticized by the mainstream press and his own advisors who told him to not focus on ‘foreign’ policy.
But Dr. King forged ahead and to justify his new stand said publicly ‘Like Muhammad Ali puts it we are all—black and brown and poor—victims of the same system of oppression’.
When Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island he said that Muhammad Ali gave him hope that the walls would some day come tumbling down.
When John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists on the medal stand in Mexico City one of their demands was to ‘Restore Muhammad Ali’s title’.
They called Ali ‘the warrior-saint of the Black Athlete’s Revolt’.
(ed:..it pays to remember that that same media who are now conferring (a well-deserved) sainthood upon ali – previously universally reviled him as a ‘traitor’ for his outspoken opposition to the war-crime that was the vietnam invasion..)
7) Earns himself a fight with Sonny Liston (1964)
Clay was fast handsome and quick-tongued but he was also brave.
Just before the second Sonny Liston v Floyd Patterson fight in 1963 Clay followed Liston to Vegas and after watching him lose at craps shouted to him: ‘Look at that big ugly bear – he can’t do anything right’.
The promoter Harold Conrad told Thomas Hauser what happened next: ‘So Liston throws the dice down – walks over to Clay and says: ‘Listen here you nigger faggot. If you don’t get out of here in 10 seconds I’m gonna pull that big tongue out of your mouth and stick it up your ass’.”
Clay was scared.
But later he drove to Liston’s house in Denver to holler at him from his driveway.
Shortly afterwards the fight was signed.
Ali had his world title shot.
When ailing boxing great Muhammad Ali made a flying visit to New Zealand – predictably he caused a sensation.
Ali was 37 and was still world heavyweight champion when he visited Upper Hutt in February 1979.
His trip was organised by the late Heretaunga boxing coach Alan Scaife who had earlier taken a team of Kiwi kids to Pennsylvania to fight a Muhammad Ali amateur boxing team.
(ed:..great clip of ali talking to new zealand secondary school pupils..)
Muhammad Ali hit out against Islamic extremists and Donald Trump’s plan to bar Muslims from entering the United States on Wednesday.
‘I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris – San Bernardino – or anywhere else in the world’ the three-time world heavyweight champion said in a statement.
‘True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion’.
The Louisville-born boxer – who converted to Sunni Islam in 1975 – called on Muslims to ‘stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda’.
He added: “They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody.”