Monday, January 17, 2011

On the 69th birthday of the greatest - Roger Ebert's Journal

On the 69th birthday of the greatest - Roger Ebert's Journal:

There was always the sweet Muhammad and the angry, crazy, righteous Muhammad. What you were hearing, of course, when you heard those conflicting voices inside Muhammad, were echoes of Cash and Bird.

Cash was Muhammad's nickname for his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr. A wild man, womanizer, and braggart of biblical proportions. 'He ain't the greatest,' Cash would say indignantly when someone fawned over his son. 'I'm the greatest.'

Bird was Muhammad's nickname for his mother, Odessa Clay. You'd have to look a long time to find a sweeter, kinder woman.
My first-ever school project, at least the first I can recall, where I had to do one of those stand-up displays was pictures and magazine clippings of Muhammad Ali. They wanted us to present on a Great American, so I chose "The Greatest," natch. This would have been the mid-1970s and my teacher was puzzled and irritated that a (rail thin elementary school white) kid (who clearly couldn't throw a punch that would beat a stiff wind) chose a controversial boxer for his report instead of a Founding Father or a President. I don't remember my grade, but I worked hard on that thing, I'd be surprised if I didn't get an A for it.

Happy Birthday, Champ.
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