Remembering Muhammad Ali, 'The Greatest'

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Boxing legend Muhammad Ali dies at 74. We look back at the life and career of the whole Muhammad Ali.

In this Sept. 29, 1975 file photo, Muhammad Ali, world heavyweight boxing champion, looks at himself in a mirror during a training session in Manila, Philippines before his fight against Joe Frazier. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74. (AP Photo/File)
World heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali looks at himself in a mirror during a training session in Manila, Philippines before his fight against Joe Frazier. (AP/File)

By the end, Muhammad Ali was beloved by all. The statesman-sportsman-hero slowed by Parkinson’s, lauded wherever he went on the planet. But in his youth and prime, Cassius Clay then Muhammad Ali, was a standing, floating, punching, high-talking challenge to everyone and everything around him. He took on the biggest boxers, the Vietnam War, American racism, American politics and poverty in the brightest spotlight on earth. This hour On Point, remembering the whole Muhammad Ali. — Tom Ashbrook


Ishmael Reed, essayist, poet and cultural critic. Author of "The Complete Muhammad Ali."

Dave Kindred, sports writer who covered 17 of Muhammad Ali's fights and author of the book, "Sound and Fury." (@DaveKindred)

From Tom's Reading List

Sports Illustrated: 'I'm a Little Special' — "If I were like a lot of guys—a lot of heavyweight boxers, I mean—I'll bet you a dozen doughnuts you wouldn't be reading this story right now. If you wonder what the difference between them and me is, I'll break the news: you never heard of them. I'm not saying they are not good boxers. Most of them—people like Doug Jones and Ernie Terrell—can fight almost as good as I can. I'm just saying you never heard of them. "

New York Times: Muhammad Ali: Worshiped. Misunderstood. Exploited. — "Muhammad Ali, who died Friday at the age of 74, was the greatest boxer of all time, but he was also deeply human, as full of frailty and foibles as anyone. He was physically vulnerable: Early on, doctors warned him and his camp followers that he was getting hit too much while training for his fights. He wouldn’t listen, and no one around him tried to persuade him otherwise."

Fox Sports: Muhammad Ali was the greatest — and it was never enough — "How sad that near the end we saw him only in a wheelchair, diminished, a withered old man with Parkinson’s. A pity that two generations of Americans have come of age without understanding how Ali became Ali. He last fought in 1981 and was last seen around the world at the torch-lighting in Atlanta. Saddest of all, in the time after Atlanta, marketers transformed the stricken Ali into a commodity for sale, sanitized, a Disney version of the Ali who once mattered. Some kind of living saint."

P.S. We’re Launching Our New Site June 9th. See It Now.

This program aired on June 6, 2016.


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