R.I.P. The Greatest 1942-2016
Muhammad Ali was not only the greatest boxer of all time. He was THE Greatest. Period. Full stop. 1
The word THE is vital in the grand scheme of things. The Greatest.
But it was not the death of Muhammad Ali that brought this home to me. Instead, it was a little article snippet I was reading this morning that alerted me to something I was somehow not aware of regarding the refugee crisis in Europe. Much is being made of all the refugees escaping the crisis in the Middle East….migrants drowning off the coast of Libya…terrorists possibly infiltrating the long sad march of women and children and decent families. But very few people are aware that far more refugees are coming from the W. African nation of The Gambia. The Gambia has a focktard leader Yahya Jammeh who came to power in 19942 and like most leaders of his ilk,3 plans to rule for a billion years. He promises to cure HIV, but only on Thursdays; slits the throats of gays; and sponsors amateur wrestling tournaments with a €2,000 grand prize so the winner can book a one-way trip to Europe.
Interesting. I never knew that. But what got me was how the article referred to The Gambia as mere Gambia. Now citizens of The Gambia are Gambians. But their country is The Gambia. Not Gambia. THE Gambia.
Afterall, alums of The Ohio State University make pains to refer to their alma mater as THE Ohio State University. Every NFL player who graduated from their refers to it that way in his player introduction on gameday. It’s not Ohio State University, but THE Ohio State University.
“You’re far too young to be a manager. You should be boxing.”
I would have loved to have been a spider on the wall the day The Greatest met Brian Clough. The Greatest and perhaps one of the greatest English football managers of all-time. Ali had heard of Cloughie and recorded a personal message to him:
“There is some fella in London named some Brian — Brian Clough. Some soccer player or something. I heard all the way in Indonesia that this fella talks too much. He says that there is another Muhammad Ali — there is just one Muhammad Ali.
“I’m the talker. Now Clough, I’ve had enough, stop it.”
When they finally met in 1974, the repatee was a lot more cordial. A meeting of two men who backed down from nothing and bowed to no one. All can say is I wish I’d been there.
So that’s that, then.
And in the words of The Greatest, “Don’t count the days; make the days count.”