Saturday, June 04, 2016

True Story

Met Ali in Chicago. I think it was before the first Frazier fight. He was walking down Michigan Ave with a crowd around him. He stopped to sign autographs and answer questions, so I stepped into the mix. First thing I noticed, he really was beautiful, I mean Greek god-come-to-life-beautiful, I mean better looking than Mandela beautiful. I mean TV, photos, movie can't do him justice beautiful.

I asked him, "Champ, what about all those writers who say you've slowed down?"

"What writers? Who cares about them? I want to know if you think I've slowed down?"

I shrugged my shoulders. "I have no idea, " I said.

Then Ali said: "Don't move. Don't move a muscle." The crowd around us backed up and oohed, anticipating my imminent, and rapid, deconstruction.

Ali threw maybe 20 punches at my head, at different points on my face, pulling each punch by about 1/4 inch to avoid contact. I didn't move because I never saw any of the punches coming...not a one, just a blur.

Then Ali dropped his hands and said "Now what do you think?"

I said, "I'm betting on you, Champ."

I asked him for his autograph, and he took the book I was holding and signed the title page. The book was Marcuse's Reason and Revolution, which I still have to this day, with Ali's autograph on the title page.

The other thing I noticed when Ali was signing my book-- the knuckles on both hands were bone white-- from all the impacts from all the punches.

June 4, 2016


  1. Nice anecdote. Great fighter in the ring and out of it:

    "Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality…. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years."

  2. Wonderful story S.Artesian. Keep well.