City boxers salute Ali as great fighter of huge impact
Cited as first athlete to speak up about social issues
LOCAL pugilists say Muhammad Ali was a gifted boxer who transcended the sport.
Harry Black of the Pan Am Boxing Club said Saturday Ali, who died Friday night, was known by most everyone.
“Any fighter knows about Muhammad Ali, but most non-fighters (do), too,” Black said.
“He was an extraordinary, unique individual... and he redefined boxing.
“He redefined the sport and what athletes could do.”
Black said before Ali, athletes didn’t use their celebrity to battle social issues such as racism. “Now, everyone does it,” he said. Nearby, training with a skipping rope, Shaliza Wheatland said it wasn’t just Ali’s boxing skills she appreciated.
“He was more than just a phenomenal boxer,” she said. “He changed the world. I think we lost a really great person.”
Sitting on a bench, Bruce Audit said he appreciated Ali’s skills when he saw him fight in videos on YouTube.
“He really has withstood the test of time,” Audit said. “Twenty or 30 years down the road, he’s still somebody people talk about. Maybe people will talk about Floyd Mayweather in 20 or 30 years — he is my favourite boxer now — but I don’t think he’ll still have the same power as Ali.”
Liberal MP Dan Vandal (Saint BonifaceSaint Vital) said Ali was his idol when he was growing up and started boxing while a teenager.
Vandal, who turned professional and was ranked the top Canadian middleweight boxer in 1983, said while helping a friend during a boxing match in Louisville, Ky., in the early 1980s, he saw Ali walk by on his way to do an exhibition bout.
“He just zoomed by on his way to the ring,” Vandal said. “But his camp came over and asked if they could borrow a water bottle, and of course, we were honoured. For a while, I breathed the same air in the same arena as him.”
Vandal said there were other notable boxers at the time, including Joe Frazier, George Chuvalo, Ken Norton and George Foreman, but Ali was the best.
“Those were the glory days of boxing,” he said. “I’m a huge Ali fan. I’m very sad today.”
Pan Am Boxing Club president and head trainer Harry Black says Ali was an ‘extraordinary, unique individual.’
People wait in long lineups to use portable toilets.