Paying respects to The Greatest
Boxing community mourns death of former champion who was an inspiration to generations of fighters past and present
Boxing community mourns death of Muhammad Ali
Rutherglen and Cambuslang’s boxing community have paid tribute to Muhammad Ali, who died last week at the age 74.
The self-proclaimed “Greatest”, Ali inspired generations of boxers and became known for his exploits out the ring as much as his fighting skills.
He burst into the scene when he was still called Cassius Clay.
He won gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics and went on to capture the world heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston in 1964 before converting to Islam and changing his name.
He became synonymous with the civil rights movement in the USA and with the growing discontent about the war in Vietnam. When he refused to be drafted, he was stripped of his titles and banned from fighting in 1967.
After his return to the ring in 1971, he won back his titles and his fights with Joe Frazier and George Foreman became legendary. However, glory came at a price and he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Cambuslang trainer Peter Harrison, whose son Scott became a world champion, admitted his death had not been a shock.
He said: “When you consider what he was like in his youth, at his peak, and compare him to his later years, it was quite sad for him and his family.
“He was massive for our sport. He wasn’t just a boxer, he was a political figure, a comedian and an entertainer.
“If you come into our gym, as soon as you walk in it’s pictures of Muhammad Ali.”
Archie Durie, who runs Durie’s Boxing Gym in Rutherglen, said Ali had been one of his idols.
He added: “He was my dad’s role model as well so he inspired different eras.
“He was the master of balance and boxing is all about balance. Obviously, he objected to fighting in the Vietnam War, but what a fighter he was in the ring.
“I missed out on seeing him in Glasgow and I regret that. His death is a big loss to boxing.”
Brian Murphy at the O’Neil’s club in Cambuslang echoed the thoughts of others.
He said: “Boxing wouldn’t be the same without him. He brought the big money and the glamour.
“There’s a great story from Mickey Duff. He was sitting behind Ali on the way home from an exhibition in Germany and mentioned that the referee had his fee stolen.
“When the arrived in the UK they seen the referee counting his money and it turned out Ali had paid his fee. That’s the kind of man he was.”
The perfect punch Champion Muhammad Ali defeating Sonny Liston in their rematch for the world heavyweight title with a first round knockout in Lewiston, Maine on May 25th, 1965