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Oct 25, 2013
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Ask any Pinoy who they think the greatest athlete of all time is, and a huge majority would answer flatly: “Michael Jordan.”

Hard to disagree with that.

But if there’s someone who can argue with that—perhaps verbally even—it would be the Louisville Lip, Muhammad Ali. The heavyweight icon had a fast jab and an even faster mouth. He had the skills, the speed, the strength, and the swagger—all of which he put to good use in becoming one of the most legendary fighters in history.

The gregarious boxer known as the world’s first true celebrity-athlete was involved in some head-cracking fights. However, his biggest bout came outside the boxing ring.

                                                 "Pigilan niyo yan! Pigilan niyo! P*tang ina si Ali yan eh!"

Now you’re asking: “What?! You mean old Muhammad had some pretty wicked street fights?!” Well, no. Muhammad Ali’s biggest challenge came outside the ring, and in the offices of the United States Supreme Court which deliberated on Ali’s staunch decision to NOT get drafted and enlist in the U.S. military, who at that time was embroiled in the Vietnam War.

Did Ali lose his balls? Was he afraid of gunfire? No. In 1967, Muhammad Ali firmly refused to be drafted in the military based on his religious opposition to the Vietnam War. Apart from the religious aspect, Ali’s distaste over the war stemmed from personal history, saying publicly: “No Vietcong ever called me nigger,” and ”Who is this descendant of the slavemasters to order a descendant of slaves to fight other people in their own country?”

Unfortunately, the decision caused Ali to lost his boxing license from 1967 to 1971, a fine of $10,000, but more important, the loss of Ali’s prime years from 25 to 29 years old.

That’s Ali for you.

And the span of time that Ali wasn’t able to box is equivalent to the span of age that Pacquiao beat Barrera (twice), Morales (twice), Marquez, David Diaz, and Oscar de la Hoya. A truly significant chunk.

In the new HBO original film, Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, we get to see more of the Ali that defied an entire nation for his personal beliefs. Premiering on October 25, 10 p.m. on HBO Signature and HBO Signature HD, the film goes behind closed doors and takes a peek at the nine American Supreme Court Justices who were set to decide the outcome of Ali’s appeal to primarily get his right to box again.


These were the Justices that deliberated on the fate of one of history’s greatest boxers, and essentially were the men that decided if Ali would ever box again or not. Their decision, if you think about it, had a big effect whether Ali would just fade into history or cement himself into a true icon of the sport.

As you all know, it’s the latter that happened—to the joy of fight fans.

What exactly were the fights that wouldn’t have happened if Muhammad Ali hadn’t been allowed to fight anymore? On the next page are five of them, including the historic Thrilla In Manila:

NEXT: Meet Ali's first victim upon returning: Jerry Quarry.


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