Muhammad Ali and me: Reader recalls meeting with a smile
I read Gail Wood's Take 2 post ("My unforgettable meeting with Muhammad Ali," July 3) and I can certainly relate. I had a similar meeting once with the heavyweight champ in his Berrien Springs, Mich., home.
I was a teacher and basketball coach at Eau Claire, Mich., which is just a few miles from Berrien Springs. The mother of one of my students worked for Ali, and the student found out he was my hero. A few days later, she told me Ali had agreed to meet me at his house that Saturday. I was so excited I could barely stand it.
Saturday finally came, and as we pulled through the gates of Ali's residence, I was so nervous I could barely steer the car. We walked up the front steps to his house, knocked on the door and waited. His wife, Lonnie Ali, answered the door and invited us inside. Sitting at the dining-room table was my all-time hero. He stuck out his hand and said, "Hello, I'm Muhammad Ali, and who are you?"
In a shaky voice, I managed to answer. He invited me to sit down at the table and we chatted for a while. I was in shock and still can't remember the conversation, but Ali finally asked me if I would like to join him in the living room. As we made our way there we mostly talked about his boxing career.
Out of the clear blue, Ali asked me who my favorite athlete was. Naturally, I said he was.
"No, I mean in today's world of sports," he said.
"Well, I guess it would be Michael Jordan," I replied.
"Would you like to talk to him?" Ali asked me.
Of course, I said. Ali picked up the phone, dialed it and after a short pause, said, "Michael, this is Ali. I have a friend here that says you are his favorite athlete and he would like to talk to you."
With that, Ali handed me the phone. I was shaking.
"Hello? Hello? Hello?" I asked.
That's when I realized Ali had just pulled one of his famous tricks on me! Ali was sitting across from me, laughing.
"Gotcha," he said.
The Greatest of all time had definitely gotten me.
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