June 04, 2016
The late Muhammad Ali's presence was felt throughout the globe during his life, and his lasting legacy is being remembered since his death at the age of 74 on Friday.
His connections to Philadelphia, New Jersey and the surrounding area are many. Here are a few of the "The Greatest's" ties to the area:
Philadelphia Daily News journalist Dick Jerardi penned a piece following Ali's death in which he remembered accompanying Ali to Deer Lake in 1974 as the boxer looked to regain his crown in a bout with George Foreman (Ali, of course, won). Jerardi wrote of the trip:
The Deer Lake visits linger still. I remember them as if they were yesterday, just as I remember the fight, the night justice was done and Ali was the champ again, forever young in my mind, the greatest of all time.
Jerardi's whole piece is worth a read, and you can view it here.
Ali grew up in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house in western Louisville, Kentucky. This past year, Philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto led the efforts to renovate the property. Ali's brother, Rahman Ali, consulted on the reconstruction, which aimed to make the home look like it did when Muhammad Ali was a boy with big dreams in the ring.
"It's just like my boyhood," Rahman Ali told the Associated Press while admiring the restoration work. "The only things missing are Dad and Mom. Otherwise, it's perfect."
Real estate enthusiasts marveled at Ali's former 6,688-square-foot Cherry Hill home when it hit the market last year.
But Ali's legacy in the South Jersey town is bigger than any building. As the Cherry Hill Courier-Post notes, while the home has since been sold, many remember Ali's time staying at the house on Winding Drive for his neighborly ways. More from the Post:
Ali's Cherry Hill home wasn't fenced, so anyone could get a good look at the five-bedroom residence. And if you had the courage to knock on the front door, it wasn't uncommon for Ali to answer and willingly sign an autograph, pose for a picture and sometimes engage in conversation.
"The neighbors would tell me how gracious Ali was," said Micale, who bought the boxer's home in 1973 and still lives there.
"He was a very famous man, the world champion of boxing, and he would shake hands with everybody," said
Micale, the owner of several McDonald's restaurants. "He would befriend children. He would ride around on a bicycle and stop to talk to everybody."
You can read the full Post article here.
Photos: Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)
That clip is only a snippet of their bickering. Frazier once said he would have strangled Ali if they were twins in the womb, and Ali once berated him using racially-charged language.
Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier were like two brothers. One that Muhammad Ali always teased the other brother and the other brother is like ‘Oh you teased me again I'm gonna fight you.' These guys genuinely loved each other. They loved each other. I don't know what Muhammad Ali is going to do once he receives that news. He loved that man. Don't let anybody fool you. There was no hate there."
Ali said after Frazier's death that the "world has lost a great champion," and said after a statue of Frazier was unveiled in South Philly last year: "I am very happy to know that Joe is being honored and memorialized in the city he loved, something that is long overdue."