President Obama Sends Muhammad Ali A Video Birthday Greeting, Says Ali “Inspired The World”

By James Slater - As the boxing world is still trying to take in the God-awful mess that went down at last night’s post-fight press conference between Vitali Klitschko and Dereck Chisora (when Chisora and fellow Brit David Haye came to blows in a truly ugly scene, with Haye hitting Chisora either with a fist or a with a fist that was holding a bottle), the sport got some far more tasteful publicity yesterday - from the President of The United States, no less!

President Barack Obama, on the occasion of a huge celebration held at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas in honour of Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday (which was Jan. 17th), sent The Greatest a video message in which he paid the former three-time heavyweight king some very high compliments.

“Happy Birthday, Champ,” the President said. “As a fighter, you were something spectacular. You shocked the world, and you inspired it, too. And even after all the titles and legendary bouts, you’re still doing it.”

It’s obviously a big, big deal when the President of the free world takes time to speak to a boxer; a big deal for the fighter himself and for the entire sport. Only the great Ali has received such an honour from Obama. Last night’s glitzy gathering must have been some place to be at. Fellow greats Manny Pacquiao, Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns were in attendance, as were former Ali ring rivals, George Chuvalo, Leon Spinks, Earnie Shavers, Chuck Wepner and others.

Later, a pair of Ali’s boxing gloves, from his first fight with the late Floyd Patterson, sold at auction for a whopping $1.1 million. Other big names lending their support to the charity event were entertainment stars Anthony Hopkins, Slash, Snoop Dogg and Stevie Wonder.

Perhaps the most appropriate tribute to Ali, aside from the one from Obama, came from promoter Bob Arum:

“Without Muhammad Ali, there wouldn’t have been an Obama,” Arum stated. “There wouldn’t have been a mixed-race President.”

‘Nuff said!

Article posted on 19.02.2012

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