BEFORE HEAVYWEIGHT boxing became as interesting as staring at a brick there was Muhammad Ali, the motor-mouthed master of the noble art.
Ali bantered and boxed his way into sporting immortality, and as he celebrates his 70th birthday we’ve picked six reasons why the ‘Louisville Lip’ became ‘The Greatest’.
1. He took on the best – Ali v Liston and Foreman
Today’s champs often get to the top by beating somebody who took a wrong turn on the way to the loo, and a Mexican road sweeper. Ali hunted out the meanest fighters around and punched them a lot.
2. He made Manila fashionable – The Thrilla in Manila
A paint colour that goes with anything and handy student folders owe their origin to Ali’s iconic third clash with old rival Joe Frazier in the Philippine capital. Possibly. Watch it and decide for yourself.
3. He invented rap – Ali Rap
Ali took trash talk out of the trash, gave it haircut, sent it to school, and turned it into cluster bombs of wit that had the world laughing at his heavyweight opponents – from a very safe distance.
4. He made boxing an ‘ology’ – Ali’s Dozen
From two blokes belting a septet of bells out of each other, Ali turned boxing into a subtle science of angles, speed, and force-to-jaw ratios, which left rivals wishing they’d done their homework.
5. He was a sporting superstar – When Ali Came to Britain
With a charisma slightly bigger than Belgium, Ali became the poster boy of pugilism, and made boxing a career any self-respecting parent could want for their children.
6. He went out fighting – Muhammad and Larry
Retirement’s for bank managers, Ali wasn’t leaving the ring ’til his pretty face was pounded into a Don King mask by his former sparring partner.
What are your favourite memories of Muhammad Ali, and why do you think he is The Greatest? Tell us below. And for sport, film and TV chit-chat, follow @tvfrombt on Twitter.