Gosh I loved that guy. Strong, spiritual, funny, confident, moral, fearless.
I met him when I was 14. I was visiting with my aunt in a coffee shop in midtown Manhattan. Here's how I remember it:
Aunt Leigh: Look over there, it's the prizefighter. Cassius Clay!
Me (in my head): DON'T CALL HIM THAT, PLEASE DON'T CALL HIM THAT!
Aunt Leigh: Let's go over and meet him.
Me (in my head): OH MY GOD, DON'T MAKE ME DO THIS!
She walks over to him and says, "My nephew is a big fan and wants to meet you," and SHE PUSHES ME FORWARD.
He offers his hand. I shake THE LARGEST HAND YOU CAN IMAGINE.
We had a little chat. He was gracious and lovely. He signed a piece of paper (which my mother threw out years later). I called him "Champ" and wished him well in his upcoming fight with Joe Frazier. And that's all I remember, but gosh I loved him before, during, and after that.
PS: A year or so earlier, as an awkward kid not knowing how to behave at a school dance, I impersonated his jabbing boxing style to the music. Somehow, it made me look like I knew how to dance! (I'm still trying to look like I know how to dance.)
Let's dance our lives to the rhythm of Living Yes!
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