Rest in peace Muhammad Ali, Champion, conscientious objector to the war in Vietnam, media hero. Story of this amazing photograph: LINK*. I consider the uncropped pic above by (fair use) © Neil Leifer for Sport Illustrated to be the equivalent of Ed Caraeff's Hendrix burning the guitar at Monterey Pop Festival, one for the ages and forever, transcending its own specialty field...
He may have been the Mouth that Roared, but he stood by his convictions and paid the price... Fortunately, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in his lifetime...
There will be many erudite media pieces on Ali's legendary boxing career or even his physical woes (he had Parkinson's Disease and much damage from the boxing ring) in the days to come. Here then is a fan's personal story from the era after Ali's retirement, on his sterling qualities as a human being, from someone in the music business well acquainted with celebrity ups and downs:
It was just another amazing evening circa 1984 at the Magic Castle, Hollywood (Ed- a private magicians' club in a unique castellated building at an astonishing location for views in the Hollywood Hills) watching awesome shows, going into rooms most people weren't allowed to enter...laughing and loving it all...when what do my wondering eyes see?? Muhammad Ali, sitting alone in the dining room with his body guards. My BFF tripped/threw/shoved me into the room where I find myself crying from joy at meeting Muhammad Ali. He literally sat me on his lap and performed numerous magic tricks for my friend & me. I couldn't even speak. I was in awe of this gentle giant...I had him sign a check of mine because I had no paper. Friend & I were entertained by Ali who allowed no one to interfere with our conversation & endless magic tricks. I later wrote him at his house thanking him for this great evening and I wished him a happy birthday. This resulted in an amazing friendship & his letter writing every year. He sent me autographed photos and several cherished items. Ali was one of the kindest gentlemen I ever met who thanked me every time I sent him a birthday card. I'm so blessed he touched my life. I love you Muhammad Ali...thank you for being such a class act all the time.