LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Anyone who knows me well — family members and my closest friends — understands that Muhammad Ali is my all-time favorite professional athlete.
Well, gang, today I walked into the Muhammad Ali Museum and Center to pay my respects to The Greatest.
It is, to say the very least, a stunning display on Main Street in downtown Louisville that honors the three-time heavyweight boxing champion. Moreover, it speaks in great detail to the social consciousness he exhibited by refusing induction into the Army in 1967 and for the sacrifice he endured when the pro boxing authorities deprived him of his ability — at the peak of his physical prowess — to make a living by beating up other men.
The Champ was The Greatest. I need no convincing of that. The chatter we hear from time to time about whether Ali would defeat, say, Mike Tyson or Lennox Lewis — two of The Champ’s boxing descendants — is just mindless chatter.
In my humble view, and I am no expert, a prime-time Muhammad Ali would make mincemeat of those two fine athletes. But that’s just me.
The exhibit does explain that Ali was a flawed man. He was a womanizer who treated his wives terribly. It speaks as well to the rhetoric he spouted by declaring that all white people were “devils.” I long have found that “devil” nonsense to be just that. The Champ’s boxing team comprised the likes of Angelo Dundee, Ferdie Pacheco and other white dudes who guided him to the pinnacle of his sport.
As for the Parkinson’s disease that turned this monumental chatter box into a silent statue of a man, one exhibit speaks to whether the brutal sport that Ali practiced contributed to his illness. It says “no!” A physician who examined Ali says the disease would have taken The Champ down without the punishment he endured while fighting. Yes, I know that’s a debatable point. I just won’t engage in that discussion.
The museum is a marvelous tribute to this city’s most notable son, a man who went on to become what many have argued “the most famous person on this Earth.”
I am so glad I took time to visit this fantastic exhibit to The Greatest of All Time.