Ali & me

I’ve been admiring these photos of Ali’s earlier matches at Sports Illustrated for a week or so. People who know me are often surprised to know that I’m a boxing fan. Though I don’t watch as much as I used to, I loved to sit with my father and watch the matches, especially Ali’s, one of my childhood idols. There was always the bravado, of course, but what I admired most was The Butterfly’s elegance as a boxer in a sport that was so violent. Later I would think of him whenever I watched a Scorcese movie. Same thing. Elegant. Precisioned. Raw.

I never dated in high school. I wasn’t allowed. And dear Mom had eyes in the back of her head and knew everybody in town. So this was one of few of her rules that I actually complied with. However, I did have a lengthy crush on a beautiful blue eyed boy named Randall when I was sixteen. And I wrote for the school newspaper. To my complete and utter surprise, Randall, though a stoner, was a boxer and had a Golden Gloves exhibition match at the school. Of course I volunteered to cover it. Randall’s was the last bout of the night. Heavyweight. His was the only match where blood was left in the ring. His father, this tiny little man, was so proud. It was the height of my attraction for Randall, who won the fight, btw. And this was my best story for the paper then.

It’s odd to have a peaceful nature and a love of blood sport (I will add here that this doesn’t include bullfighting…the bulls are not consenting contestants). There’s just some arenas in life…art, boxing, and others….that allow the raw side of human nature to leak out and express itself in compelling ways.

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