MARQUETTE — If you go to Sam Ali’s bio on the ABC 10 website, his answer to the question “If you could interview anyone, who would it be?”, is and has always been Muhammad Ali. He was Sam’s hero because of what he did inside and outside the ring. He never got to meet him in person and he retired long before Sam was even born. But, he still left an indelible mark on his life and the lives of countless others.
He was my hero because of what he did inside and outside the ring. I never got to meet him in person and he retired long before I was even born. But he still left an indelible mark on my life and the lives of countless others. http://goo.gl/bhVpYF
Posted by Sam Ali – ABC 10 Sports on Monday, June 6, 2016
He was brave. “I will not go 10,000 miles to help murder and kill another poor people simply to continue the domination of white slave masters over the darker people,” Ali said. He was cocky. “You talk to much to meet me. Never predict a round on me. Never talk about you’re going to punish me. Baddest heavyweight and the fastest in the world,” said Ali.
And he backed it up in the ring.
Local boxing coach Al Mitchell was close friends with Joe Frazier, one of Ali’s biggest rivals, and he didn’t care for Ali’s antics at first.
But as time moved along, Mitchell began to respect Ali’s work in the ring because he says Ali would beat you before you even got in the ring.
“Not only did he beat you coming forward, but he beat you backing up and side to side. I had never seen a heavyweight like that. The other thing is that he never ducked nobody. Back then, there were only eight weight classes. He fought everyone in the top ten and then went down to the top 20, then come back to the top ten. Unbelievable athlete,” Mitchell said.
Ali fought all over the world during his amateur and professional career, winning a gold medal in the Olympic Games in 1960, while also becoming the first and only three–time lineal World Heavyweight Champion.
His career also brought him to Marquette on July 9th, 1977, where he fought in a special exhibition fight for a scholarship fund benefit. Mitchell says he was one of those boxers that loved the sport very much.
“The real good ones are zealous of their sport, and what I mean by that is they’re almost crazy about their sport. They eat right, they sleep right, they dream right. They do everything right and that’s what Muhammad Ali did,” said Mitchell.
But it was outside the right where Ali became an icon, after he refused to enlist in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War, citing religious reasons about not wanting to get involved in the war. He was found guilty of draft evasion and stripped of his titles.
By the time he has won his appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court, he had not fought in a very long time.
“His most productive time, he gave it up to his sport. And this is a person who was a Class A boxer. He gave up millions of dollars for his belief. And it’s very rare, young people that are athletes, no matter which sport, would give up their sport for their beliefs,” said Mitchell.
And that’s why as his family mourns, the world mourns the loss of an incredible athlete, a brave civil rights activist and a generous humanitarian. His name was Muhammad Ali and he will always be the greatest of all time.