Muhammad_Ali_Black_and_white

Happy Birthday ~ ALI

In rememberence of Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday this week, January 17, I am bringing back one of my favorite features on THE GREATEST that was part of a series I did for for this Web site. Here now, for your enjoyment, is that story. Happy Birthday Champ!
Muhammad Ali Black and white Happy Birthday ~ ALI

Muhammad Ali

 

By David Martinez / Boxing HistorianThis is the last of a six part series on Muhammad Ali. It has truly been my pleasure to share with you my personal accounts of THE GREATEST heavyweight champion in my era of boxing.

For those of you who have missed any of this special series, you can simply go to the menu on this website and click on the category, “Ali”, to view each part.

So, in my final, part six, I will take you back to Saturday afternoon, March 5, 2005. The location was the Stevens Steak House, Commerce, California. The event was the annual California Boxing Hall of Fame Inductee ceremonies.

This wasn’t even a live fight, but I will simply recognize it as one of the most memorable events that I have attended in my almost fifty years of involvement in boxing.

As the ceremonies were just about to conclude, the doors opened at the restaurant and the 600-plus SRO crowd started to chant “Ali, Ali, Ali, Ali, Ali” as the three time heavyweight champion entered the room. It was so electric, it was as if the Pope himself had walked into the room, and it was one of those moments in time where one just had to be there to witness and feel it.

The look on people’s faces was priceless – that just ONE person could generate so much excitement at a public establishment was amazing.

The person that was instrumental in bringing Ali, was his long time personal photographer Howard Bingham, who later stated that Ali was in the Los Angeles area that weekend to watch daughter Laila participate in a marathon the next day.

After a short presentation on behalf of Ali, with many photos taken, he left the banquet room and as he walked to a vehicle waiting for him outside, an array of fans, including myself, followed behind in the entourage chanting “Ali, Ali, Ali. Ali, Ali …”

I was fortunate to shake his hand, get an autograph, and get some photos. At that moment, I was trying to remember the last time I was so excited to see anybody – then I quickly remembered that it was when I was four years old seeing Santa Claus in the toy section of Montgomery Wards!

2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday ~ ALI

  1. David, I have thoroughly enjoyed your web site and all the boxing memorabilia you have shared with the public. Your knowledge of the boxing world’s history and your personal involvement within it should be extremely useful for future historians and the younger folks who have a similar passion for this great sport.
    You mentioned being fortunate enough to meet Ali through Howard Bingham at the California Boxing hall of fame Inductee ceremonies and how memorable it was that evening.
    One of my most prized possessions is a real signed photo by Bingham of Ali in Zaire for the Foreman fight showing his bare fist up close to the camera and in the backround are many African local fans and admirers. This photo along with my Robinson/LaMatta photo seem to carry enough inspiration to get me through those “hard times”.
    I hope some day to meet you and take in more of our wonderful history of the sweet science.
    All the Best, Mike Monteabaro (also living in Santa Barbara)

  2. ” As if the Pope himself had walked into the room” ! Ha ha ha – absolutely – I can easily see what such an event would have the same gravity ! WHAT a moment in time, Dave, for you to share ! What an experience.

    I would ask where are the photos, but I assume they are probably already somewhere here, posted on your site. ( I have not yet read the first parts of this ‘ Ali” series, but will soon do).

    Question: Dave, in your article, you mention ‘ a short presentation on behalf of Ali” – do you mean HE made the presentation, ? )r did someone else speak on his behalf, can’t tell from how this is written, thanks.

    If you can tell me where the pictures are too, that would be great, Im looking forward to seeing them.

    Roy

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