Muhammad Ali turns 65 today

George Plimpton in Time (on whose cover Ali appeared three times):

Screenhunter_04_jan_17_0202Though Ali won the gold medal at the Rome Olympics in 1960, at the time the experts didn’t think much of his boxing skills. His head, eyes wide, seemed to float above the action. Rather than slip a punch, the traditional defensive move, it was his habit to sway back, bending at the waist — a tactic that appalled the experts. Lunacy.

Nor did they approve of his personal behavior: the self-promotions (“I am the greatest!”), his affiliation with the Muslims and giving up his “slave name” for Muhammad Ali (“I don’t have to be what you want me to be; I’m free to be what I want”), the poetry (his ability to compose rhymes on the run could very well qualify him as the first rapper) or the quips (“If Ali says a mosquito can pull a plow, don’t ask how. Hitch him up!”). At the press conferences, the reporters were sullen. Ali would turn on them. “Why ain’t you taking notice?” or “Why ain’t you laughing?”

More here. Below see the video of what many consider Ali’s best fight ever, Muhammad Ali vs. Cleveland Williams, 1966:

And here is a different video of the same fight (do yourself a favor and watch watch Ali dance!). I wrote about Ali last year in an essay here at 3QD (scroll down).  Happy Birthday, Muhammad Ali!