Sunday, June 5, 2016

A BRUSH WITH THE GREATEST (or how Muhammad Ali almost stole my bride) by Jerry Cimino

The following was written by Jerry Cimino, founder of The Beat Museum in San Francisco. He posted it on Facebook and graciously gave me permission to re-post it here on The Daily Beat. Given my earlier post today about The Greatest, I thought this was fitting.

This is the picture Jerry included in his Facebook post

(or how Muhammad Ali almost stole my bride)
by Jerry Cimino

Muhammad Ali exploded on to the American consciousness when he won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics. He was controversial to be sure. A big man with a big mouth who changed his perfectly good name from Cassius Clay to the strange and foreboding Muhammad Ali. White America didn't quite understand this guy. He hung out with Black Muslims in the radical 1960s and he defied the U.S. Government by refusing to be drafted into the Vietnam War with the famous line, "Man, I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. No Viet Cong ever called me nigger."
I met Muhammad Ali only once. My wife and I were on our honeymoon at Paradise Island in the Bahamas in September, 1981. Estelle was 24 and I was 27. We both looked great, as only people in their 20s really can.
We were walking from our room in a giant hotel down to a casino when this guy came running down the hall toward us on a mission. "Man, you seen the Champ? You seen the Champ?" Estelle and I looked at each other. "I don't know what you're talking about," I said and he ran off to continue his quest.
Thirty seconds later we learned what it was all about when a huge wave of humanity came washing over us in that same wide hallway. Forty boisterous people were having a walking party in the middle of the hall and coming our way. Suddenly, one broke from the pack and came charging right at us. He was huge, he was fast and he sped by me in a flash and scooped up my 95 pound bride off her feet like she was a doll and took off with her down the hall.
I joined the rest of the laughing and taunting crowd as we caught up with them twenty feet away. I ran up to him directly, my fists in the air. "Hey, buddy, that's my wife!" I started waving my fists in front of his face. He stood there like a mountain, holding Estelle aloft with one hand as he sparred with me rope-a-dope style with the other big hand.
"You want her, you gotta come get her," he came back. The crowd was enthralled as we danced around the hallway like we were in a boxing ring. Oh, would there have been cell phones and video cameras back then!
Finally, Muhammad Ali placed Estelle gently on the ground. I pulled out a napkin from my pocket and he signed an autograph, probably still buried today in a box in our garage.
Estelle gave him a peck on the cheek as he released her back to me. To this day she still calls him "My Honeymoon Honey." Muhammad Ali. He truly was The Greatest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh wow... what a memory to have. RM