Quote of the day, June 7

Jim Murray, on Muhammad Ali

“I suppose Muhammad Ali, née Cassius Clay, was the most classically constructed athlete you will ever see this side of a Greek statue. He was glib, articulate and, when he first came up, possessed of a kind of appealing, roguish innocence. Everybody loved him. Kids adored him. He was a Frank Merriwell hero come true. He ennobled a brutish sport. He won his victories with flash and flurry. Not for him the plodding infighting, the methodical punishment of a boring foe. He fought at long range like the USS Missouri. He choreographed his fights. He danced, he skipped. He dared you to hit him.

“He didn’t have fights, he gave recitals. The opponent was just the piano, the backdrop. All eyes were on Ali. He loved it. It was his stage, his life. He was like Bob Hope with a troop audience. Olivier at the Old Vic. How will history judge him? A bearer of lightor a counter-productive force? He was probably the most recognizable athlete in the world. As such he symbolized America in parts of the world where they had no other clear view of it.”


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