Dear Crabby, Was Muhammad Ali ‘The Greatest?’

Dear Crabby,

In today’s society we put our athletes on a pretty high pedestal even though very few of them deserve it. But one athlete truly worthy of the praise (in my humble opinion) was Muhammad Ali and I was quite bummed to hear he passed away last week. What do you think—was Ali really ‘The Greatest?’

Randy Righthook

Dear Randy Righthook,

Being from De-twa, most people probably assume when it comes to boxers, I’d jump to the city’s defense and say Tommy ‘Hitman’ Hearns or Joe ‘Brown Bomber’ Louis. Don’t get me wrong. Both of those men were fantastic boxers, but there’s just something about Muhammad Ali, the man who started out as Cassius Clay, Jr. He was larger than life inside and outside the ring. And I bet ya didn’t know that even though Louisville, Kentucky claims him as their native son, Ali, his wife Lonnie, and DearCrabbytheir son Asaad lived in Michigan for over 30 years over in Berrien Springs. From what I’ve read he was a pretty great neighbor and involved in the community, never making a big deal when he donated something that was needed. It seems as far as he or anyone else was concerned, he was just one a regular guy who helped out when he was asked. Wonder if any of today’s athletes would be so gracious with their time and secure enough to not need the limelight 24/7? Probably precious few.

But my favorite Muhammad Ali story is one that involves me, of course! It was after Ali had retired and I was on a road trip somewhere between Detroit and Ohio in the ‘80s. Anyway, I stopped of at a rest area off I-75 and while I was in the restroom washing my hands, this guy started using the sink next to me. Now normally men don’t chitchat in the bathroom, but I couldn’t resist and said, ‘Has anyone ever told you that you look like Cassius Clay, the boxer?’ The large man looked over at me, dropped into a fighter’s stance and replied in a booming voice, ‘I AM THE GREATEST!’ I was gobsmacked. ‘You’re really him, aren’t you?’ was about all I could manage. He just looked at me and said, ‘My name is Muhammad Ali.’ I couldn’t believe it. His fists were the size of grapefruits. Can you imagine getting pummeled by grapefruits in a boxing ring? He was a man of incredible size, yet he seemed so human. So, to answer your question of whether or not Ali deserves the title of ‘The Greatest,’ I emphatically say… YES! Whether or not you agreed with his politics or his religion, the man left a lasting impression on the sports world and those who were lucky enough to cross his path.

As Ali would say, ‘Don’t count the days; make the days count.’

Dear Crabby

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