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← Interview with Muhammed Ali

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Showing Revision 4 created 02/23/2014 by brittanysorlando.

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    [Jazz music]
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    [singing] Them that's got, shall get
    Them that's not, shall lose
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    So the Bible said, and it still is news.
    Mama may have, Papa may have
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    But God bless the child that's got his own,
    That's got his own. [Music ends]
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    [Muhammad Ali]: It's the Spring of 1973, and I'm coming home after a defeat.
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    Every man, woman and child in my home town, was and heard about how I lost the fight to Norton.
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    Just like everybody else all over the world heard, the press will crowd the sports pages with headlines that
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    remind me Muhammad Ali is finished. The end of an era. Ali beaten by a nobody, his big mouth
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    shut for all times. Most thrilling fight in history, I had to make my comeback. [laughter]
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    [Studs] This is the beginning, you know, this is Muhammad Ali reading the opening passage
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    from a very beautiful and moving book, by the way "The Greatest", Muhammad Ali. Random
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    House is the publishers, written with Dick Durham. And I was thinking, Muhammad Ali, champion
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    that moment, recall, that moment a lot of people wanted you to be beaten, and a lot wanted
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    you to win. Do you remember it?
    [Ali]: Yes sir, whenever I go into the ring
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    you can always hear the boos, the crowd, the heckles. Many of them were coming for years
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    and they were determined that they were going to see this man lose. Many of their main objects was to
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    see the big mouth beat. The way he talks is superior his boxing skill. He can't be that great, he's gonna
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    fall, one day he's gonna get it. And they just determined to come until they see it.
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    And if it happens and they don't see it, they'll feel bad. They just want to be there, even if
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    they have other partners, other things to do, even if they can't afford it, some make it their business
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    to be there, whenever they come because a guy that get away with too many victories, upset too many
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    people, whoop them many times, and shocked them, and they want to see it. Finally it happened with
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    Ken Norton.
    [Studs]: There's something you said, Muhammad Ali.
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    That some of the people -- you're hitting a very important thing -- some people can't even afford it.
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    Some of the very powerful ones, some people can't even afford it, wanted you beaten. It's something
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    about their own lives missing, you see what I mean? What is it, that wants to make them be part of
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    of something that even makes them feel less?
    [Ali]: I think all of them would be great, all people
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    want to be victorious, want to be successful, and when they see another man, naturally they might
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    envy them, especially when he talks about it and brags about it, saying "I'm gonna do this,
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    he's gonna fall. I am the King, I am the greatest" and keeps doing it, not only with this confidence they
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    don't have, and here's a man expressing and doing it, and they just want to see him beat many
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    of them. Some of them like it, it encourages them, but some want to see him beat because
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    he just shouldn't be that cocky, and he just shouldn't be able to get away with it, I couldn't do it so he
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    shouldn't be able to get away with it.
    [Studs]: Let's go back, coming back to Louisville,
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    who is Muhammad Ali? Once upon a time, this kid, Cassius Clay, who is Muhammad? Your father
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    was a sign painter.
    [Ali]: Yes, he was a sign painter.
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    Still is. Mother's just happy doing housework, she had a part-time job when money was short
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    to keep us fed and keep shoes on our feet going to school. Cassius Clay was just a little kid, just like
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    everybody else, going to school everyday, coming home, going down the street and kicking,
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    playing football, riding around and peeping in wonders or whatever little devilish things kids do.
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    Cassius Clay started boxing at 12 years old, and wanted the Golden Gloves, the Olympics, the AU, went
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    long-term pro and my life wasn't too much different from another child.
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    [Studs]: Well there's a moment you describe, earlier in the book, coming back after having won the
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    Olympic Gold medal. Before I ask you about that, your father, you always felt that he had
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    possibilities of being something better too, didn't he? He had possibilities. This is one of the things that
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    hit me about you and your life from the book. Looking for other possibilities. And this is your old
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    man, your father.
    [Ali]: Yeah, he's a great singer, he imited Perry
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    Como, Nat King Cole, Roland Hayes, old-time great singers. He figured if he left Louisville, the South
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    he was coming up, he had a chance to be great, and I think he could have. And it says on his mind
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    all the time, he could have been a great singer. Today he still tries to sing.
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    [Studs]: Though you come back to Louisville, and just about that time -- by the way, if Emmet Till lived,
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    he'd but just about your age, wouldn't he?
    [Ali]: Right.
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    [Studs]: Is that -- do you remember that case when you lived back there?
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    [Ali]: Yeah, I remember reading about how he was all tore up, and burned up and everything, and
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    eyes out of his head, and that really made me think about myself. He's a kid like myself...
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    And it really made me real bitter. And to think about that, I explain it all in the book.
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    [Studs]: There's a certain moment, when you came back from Louisville, and you were the champ who
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    won the golden medallion. And you came in to that restaurant.
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    [Ali]: Went to the restaurant, always was a kid who liked to experiment and look around, think about
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    various things, there wasn't always a lot of things happening, and I said -- I had my gold medal
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    and I wore it out to eat, being the champ in the world, beat everybody in the world, and I know they can't
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    turn me down. They did. The woman who took my order told me they couldn't serve Nigros
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    and went back to the kitchen and told the manager, he said, I don't care about Cassius Clay, and he
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    came out, and a little scuffle arose, verbal. This motorcycle gang -- Frog and his boys -- came in, and
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    [Studs]: Frog is the motorcycle
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    [Ali]: Yeah, they didn't like it and we stood about talking and what's with the gold medal olympic,
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    nigger and all this stuff. And we got to scuffling and I beat up a couple of them. Anyway, after all this
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    scuffle and getting put out and seeing the medal had no power, I just went to the Jefferson county bridge
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    and thought about all the people I'd beaten, and all the country I'd represented and couldn't even eat
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    in my own home town. I said, this medal isn't even worth a damn thing. I just threw it in the Ohio river.
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    [Studs]: Yeah. Now that particular moment was one that you remember pretty well, isn't it? Did that sort
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    of open your eyes a little bit, or did you know about it before?
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    [Ali]: What?
    [Studs]: That you'd be treated that way coming back.
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    [Ali]: No, well I knew blacks couldn't eat in restaurants. What kicked it off one day,
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    before the Winter Olympics, saw this African from University of Louisville, Kentucky, going down the
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    street and having arose and little things and they went
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    to go in this white restaurant, and the lady said something to the manager and he said to another man "It's okay, they're not negros." and that really shook me up