MUHAMMAD ALI—MASTER OF LANGUAGE. Muhammad Ali has died. He was always one of my heroes. I posted on “MUHAMMAD ALI, THE POET” here. The first time I encountered Cassius Clay was in the pages of the New Yorker when A.J. Liebling quoted his testimony to a joint legislative committee that was discussing a bill to abolish boxing in New York State. The testimony is repeated in this article by Ken Jones in the Independent in 1998.

Clay said, “Boxing is at the winter of its year. In the time when there were great fighters like Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis, nobody talked against it. When there are no great fighters, people lose interest. It’s a question of time.”

Leaning forward and pointing through a window, he added, “In winter, leaves are not on trees, the grass and flowers are dead, the mind is thinking of chili and hot foods. Time is why. But the earth rotates around the sun… and in that time there are winter, spring, summer and fall.” (“I thought I’d break that problem down for them,” he said the next day.)

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