Ali’s Final Punch
Louisville, Kentucky, Cascade Press, (CP) Muhammad Ali threw his final punch yesterday in Phoenix, Arizona. It was a silent punch, as swift and as silent as the punch that dropped Sonny Liston to the canvass in Lewiston,Maine 51 years ago last month. Ali’s final punch was like the sting of a bee, then he floated into eternity on June three.
Metaphorically speaking, on the first Friday in June 2016, Ali, like Sonny Liston and George Foreman had done in the ring; and like countless other ordinary people in the ring of living and dying, refused to come out of his corner.
Ali belongs to the Ages, now. He lived what we today call a purposeful life. If you had asked him while he walked among us, he would, I think, have said he lived free. A free man, especially a free Black man, is a rare persona in this or any age.
Ali was a rarity!
He studied to understand universal principles and he lived his life, the best he could, by those principles.
Ali paid the price for his beliefs. He met injustice with love. In return the world showered him with love while he fought through Parkinson’s Disease, which was his biggest opponent, since this foe dropped out of the sky in the early 1980s. An opponent bigger than the massive human physiques Ali fought in the ring like Liston, or Foreman, or Ernie Shavers, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, George Chuvalo, Oscar Bonevana, Joe Bugner or Ernie Terrell.
And yesterday, as when he fought Larry Holmes way passed his prime, Ali refused to come out of his corner and engage life for one more round.
Ali’s final punch in the boxing ring is chronicled in the movie The Final Punch. The filming of this movie took place in Atlanta, Georgia about three years ago. I have a small part in this movie. I play a Bahamian lawyer (I’ve played a lawyer in real life too) who represented the Bahamian Minister of Industry and Trade.
Although, it is a non-speaking part, my character is skeptical about the plans of a Chicago street hustler who wants the Bahamian Trade and Industry Minister to grant Ali a fight permit to fight Trevor Berbick on the island. The young hustler turned fight promoter got his fight permit and Ali threw his last punch in the ring on December 11, 1981. The fight was billed in the same hyperbolic style of previous Ali fights, as the Drama in the Bahama. Ali had no business in the ring that night. He was probably in the early stages of Parkinson. Ali’s final punch was not his signature left jab, but a right cross at the one second mark of the closing round, ending the night, not on his back, but fighting the last three rounds on his toes in the style of the brash 19 year-old Cassius Clay. I would like to think he returned to pure energy last night on his toes, braggadociously, proclaiming his arrival on the other side.
The movie was screened in Atlanta early last year. It usually takes three years for a movie to hit the big screen. It will probably be out later this year, in the year, that Ali’s final punch in this life was thrown.