The Great Mohammed Ali was the world champion, the people’s champion, and the greatest!
“Before we left for Italy, I tried again to meet Sugar Ray. I walked all the way up Fifth Avenue to 125th Street. I wanted to get his autograph and tell him that l was on my way to the Olympics to win a gold medal. I wanted to tell him that I admired him and that I was going to be the heavyweight champion of the world by the time I was twenty-one. When I arrived at the club, I waited outside all day for Sugar Ray to get there. I didn’t mind waiting; I would have stood outside all week if I had to.
“It was about ten o’clock when he finally drove up. I was so excited that for the first time in my life, I was speechless. When I pulled myself together, I walked up to Mr. Robinson told him how far I had come just to see him and how long I had been waiting to get his autograph. I told him that I was going to be the heavyweight champion of the whole world and that he was my hero.
“When I think back, I realize he never really looked at me. He gave me a quick pat on the shoulder and told me, ‘Later, boy, I’m busy right now.’ I was crushed. I couldn’t believe he brushed me aside like that, especially after l had waited all day for him to show up. I felt as if my feet were made of cement. I couldn’t move. I just stood there as I watched Sugar Ray Robinson turn his back to me and walk away. Although I felt hurt and let down, I decided that I wouldn’t let my disappointment get the best of me.
“I was going to be different when I became a great boxer. I would be the kind of champion that fans could walk up to and talk to. I would shake their hands and sign every autograph, even sign some autographs in advance so that when I was in a hurry, I could still hand them out to people, assuring everyone went home happy. I was going to go out of my way to show my fans how important they were and how much l appreciated them. At that moment, I vowed never to turn a fan away.
“I didn’t want anyone to feel the disappointment and hurt that I felt that night. I was always going to make time for the people who looked up to me; especially children. I knew that when I became a champion – and I knew that I would – I was going to remember what it was like before I made it big. I wasn’t going to forget where I came from. I was going to be my own kind of champion, a champ to all people everywhere in the world. And no matter how high I climbed up the ladder of success, I was going to view the world without looking down on anyone. And wasn’t going to forget the boy that I once was.”
– Muhammad Ali
And did great Mohammed Ali do that? Yes! And more, he was the world champion, the people’s champion, and the greatest!
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