Floating a Lotus Flower at the Erawan Museum in Bangkok, Thailand

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Champ

at Auburn University, Spring 1973

Some Auburn University students (all from Headland, AL) with The Champ.  Ali had been invited to dinner at the Lambda Chi house, and that's where they met him.  On the very far left (half visible) is my cousin, Mike Vann.  Next, Mac Davis.  Randy McClendon and Jim McGee are on the right. Photo is property of either Jim or Randy.

My Muhammad Ali Story

In early 1978, the heavyweight champion of the world Muhammad Ali took on Leon Spinks.  I was just six-years-old, and I was at home in Headland when this bout was shown live on TV.   My grandmother Dot was there with me, and so was my mother.  I loved Muhammad Ali!  Why?!?!?  Maybe I heard the name and thought it was unusual.  Or maybe it was a commercial I had seen.  Or maybe that night when the boxers made their way to the ring I could tell that Ali was getting the attention.  I was up close to the hearth watching it.  Ali was in the latter stages of his storied career and he was doing his rope-a-dope technique, hoping to tire out his opponent before unleashing big punches in later rounds.  Spinks pounded away, and it sure looked like he had the upper hand from the beginning.  Dot, knowing I was rooting for the champ, told me she put a curse on Ali so Spinks could win.  And I am sure, in a cute way, I tried at first to get her not to say this.  It didn't work!  Dot kept on, and as more rounds came to a close, it sure seemed Spinks was still getting the best of Ali.  And the more I wanted Ali to turn things around, the more Dot reminded me of the curse.  It really began to upset me!  I begged my all-powerful grandmother to take the curse off.  She didn't.  Lo and behold, the fight went the distance, and the scores came in.  The legendary Muhammad Ali had lost!  I was disappointed, sad and, most of all, ANGRY.  I turned to my grandmother and told her I really hated her.  It took some time for her to convince me that she actually played no part in that upset (one of the most stunning in history, btw!).  And I am sure I forgave her fairly quickly.  Dot loved recounting that story through the years.  She said she never dreamed that Leon Spinks really stood a chance.  Of course, later that year, Ali got his revenge in a rematch with Spinks,  Muhammad Ali regained the title and became the world's first three-time heavyweight boxing champion.  All was right again.

Click here for more of Ali on the Plains

And click here for my other Ali posts.

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