Muhammad Ali’s 81st Birthday Celebration Today!
By Ken Hissner: In the past, I have written about half a dozen of Muhammad Ali’s birthdays, and this is the most recent being Tuesday, January 17th, the “Greatest” would have been 81.
On June 3rd, 2016, at the age of 74, Ali passed away in Scottsdale, Arizona.
In her book “AT HOME WITH Muhammad Ali,” his daughter Hana Ali mentioned all the children her father had from three of his four marriages. “My father had Maryum (May May), Rasheda, Jamillah, and Muhammad Jr. with this second wife, Belinda Boyd. He had Laila and me with his third wife, Veronica Porche, and two children, Miya and Khaliah, with women he was never married to, Pat and Aaisha.
In 1989, he and his widow, Lonnie, adopted a son. Asaad was born long after my father made his recordings, so he isn’t mentioned often in this book, but Asaad is an important part of his heart and legacy.
In Hana’s book, she added, “We were all there to wish him a final farewell—all of his children and grandchildren. He had prepared me for this since I was a child.
“I’m going to die one day,” he said. “We’re all going to die. This life is short. This life is just a test for the eternal life…God doesn’t care that I whooped Joe Frazier. He doesn’t care if I knocked out George Foreman. He only cares about how I treated people and how many people I helped…”
In 1973 I met Ali, who was in a crowd in the center city of Philadelphia after his loss to Ken Norton, suffering a broken jaw. An old timer said to him, “next time you fight Norton, be a man and not a boy!” Ali replied, “did you call me Roy?”
Two weeks later, after reading in the Philly Daily News that he no longer lived at 70th & Overbrook in West Philadelphia but now in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. I found the home though not writing at the time.
His second wife, Belinda, answered, and I asked, “can I talk to the champ?” She closed the door after saying, “just a minute.” I figured she wouldn’t return, but she did and asked me to come in. There was a Muslim banner hanging, a picture of a horse, and a plaque from the Cherry Hill Little League thanking him for his contributions.
Upon entering the living room, I said, “why didn’t you give Doug Jones a rematch?” I knew if I didn’t get in the first word, I wouldn’t get another in. He replied, “come in and sit down, boy!” I was able to see and talk to him on two other occasions at his Deer Lake, Pennsylvania camp, now called “Fighters Heaven.”
Boxrec shows Ali’s amateur record as 70-6 with 21 knockouts and stopped twice. One thing they left out was in the Olympic heavyweight trials; he lost to Percy Price from New Jersey. He then entered the light heavyweight trials winning and going to Rome in 1960, winning a Gold Medal.
As a professional, he was 56-5 with 37 knockouts and stopped once. He was the first heavyweight champion to win the title three times. That was an idea IBHOF trainer Cus D’Amato told me at his Catskill residence in 1982 that he gave to Ali.
He also told me how he would work with a youngster if his sign was Capricorn. Other heavyweight champions under that sign were ”Terrible” Tim Witherspoon on December 27th and January Floyd Patterson on the 4th, Corrie “The Sniper” Sanders on the 7th, Joe Parker, on the 9th, “Big” George Foreman on the 10th and “Smokin” Joe Frazier on the 12th.
Ali is gone but will never be forgotten though some seven years ago.
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