December looks like a solid month for boxing in the ring, with Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito renewing their rivalry, The end to the Bantamweight and Middleweight Tournaments that SHOWTIME has been working on for over a year, the return to the ring of young up and comer Amir Khan, Vladimir Klitschko defends his heavyweight title and the Japanese celebrate New Year’s with fighters in the ring! However when news that Muhammad Ali has been hospitalized comes across the wire, the boxing world comes to a screeching halt.
There is only one Muhammad Ali. When they say Manny Pacquiao is the next Muhammad Ali, it is because you can only be ‘the next’, you can never replace the original.
Recently the boxing world lay Ali’s nemesis Joe Frazier to rest, and Ali attended the funeral. Ali has suffered from Parkinson’s for many years, and as he approaches 70 years old, he has been limiting his public appearances. Ali was able to pay his respects to Joe Frazier.
Shortly after the funeral, Ali was found unconscious in his home by his wife, and was rushed to the hospital where it is reported that he spent five days under observation.
Muhammad Ali is likely one of the 10 most famous and iconic people of the later half of the 20th century. Ali lifted boxing to new heights, and indeed he transcended boxing to impact societies throughout the world.
Because of his disease and health, Ali has not had the public impact he might have had if he had remained healthy. Despite this, he has retained his place in the public awareness, and to this day people are still looking for the next ‘Muhammad Ali’.
From the sold out nights at Madison Square Garden, to the ‘Thrilla in Manilla’ and the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’, Ali ruled boxing in an era where boxing was seen by a worldwide audience, without PPV or any of today’s distribution techniques. Because of this it is safe to say that there will never be another Muhammad Ali in the history of boxing or sports.
So it is with great reverence and respect that I hope Muhammad Ali is able to overcome this latest bout with illness and that he is with us for a long time to come.