Sunday, June 5, 2016

Close encounter with Muhammad Ali

What with everything being written about the death of Muhammad Ali I have to chime in with my brother George's story.

He was in Atlantic City some years ago, bombing around. I used to bomb around with him sometimes too and so did my sister Katie. We would just drive around here and there. Ah, freedom, you know? Before you were working all the time.

Anyway, George was at a boxing match, or something, and all of a sudden there was this bustle and commotion.

"Make way! Make way!" men were calling out.

By the way that is a phrase I love, "Make way."

They were bringing Ali through. It was like royalty passing by. And as Muhammad Ali passed him, George reached out and patted his back.

Reach out and touch someone, as the old telephone ad went! That is what George did. He seized the moment!

He said he can still remember how it felt. As anyone would who had patted the back of Muhammad Ali, is all I can figure.

George and I were talking yesterday about how Muhammad Ali in our memories had always been elderly. We could not believe he was only 74, or 75, I have seen it reported both ways. We thought he would be about 100. It is a tragedy he got Parkinson's, and so young. Because of Leonard Pennario, speaking of the greatest, I know a thing or two about Parkinson's.

So there it is, a genuine close encounter with Muhammad Ali. Few people can boast of having had one. But my brother George can!

And so can my friend Jerry Sullivan at The Buffalo News. That is a strange little story he has to tell, in a way not unlike my brother George's.

Me, I have none. But weep not for me, I have seen my share of greatness.

And will continue to do so!

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