The Greatest

This is why I love Muhammad Ali ( and you will too, if you read his autobiography!)

When I get back to the hotel, we rush to pack and get ready for the flight to Atlanta. I’m making phone calls to Philadelphia when C.B. Atkins, one of Herbert’s business aides, and Blue Lewis, my sparring partner, answer a knock at the door.

“Someone here with some packages for The Champ!” Blue yells over his shoulder. “Gift packages!” He comes back with two boxes neatly wrapped in white tissue, tied with red and green ribbons, and tosses one to C.B. Then he reads out loud the lettering on top of his box. “It says, ‘To Cassius Clay from Georgia.’ ” He begins tearing it open.

“Who knew I wanted cake for breakfast? Get the knife.” Suddenly, yelling and cursing, he drops the package. Blood is dripping from his hands. The package is on the floor and the body of a little black chihuahua has rolled out, its head severed from its body.

A message in the box reads: “We know how to handle black draft-dodging dogs in Georgia. Stay out of Atlanta!” A Confederate flag is the only signature. In the other box is a rag doll in yellow boxer shorts and tiny boxing gloves. A rope is tied around its throat and the head is jerked to the side to show its neck is broken. C.B. and Blue run down the hall to catch the messenger, but they come back alone. The little dog’s body is still warm, and we make the box a casket.

But I keep the doll. Without the rope around its neck it will make a good toy for my three-year-old daughter. It’s a well-made doll, a lot of care went into it, and it looks a little like me. Not as pretty, but a good resemblance.”


from “The Greatest,” by Muhammad Ali. One of the best reads, ever by the way. ( edited by Toni Morrison!)

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