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Even though Howard Cosell once publicly referred to me as a “hanger on,” my days as part of the Champ’s camp were some of the most memorable.

You can’t be that close to Ali without learning something about confidence, independence, diligence and excellence. Earning his respect, trust and friendship meant a lot to me.

I will always cherish our friendship and the memories that will remain etched in my mind.

Here are a few:

My favorite story about me and the Champ, I shared in my book I’m Just a DJ …But It Makes Sense to Me.

In January 1975, Ali came to Dallas and paid a visit to the radio station.  We hit it off and the next thing you know, a man who wanted to start a syndicated sports radio talk show hosted by the Champ offers me a job as a producer.  The catch was the Champ knew nothing about it.  The deal was if I could convince the Champ to sign the contract, I would get $50,000. I talked to Ali, we signed the contract and as soon as I got the money, I jogged to the Lincoln Mercury dealership and bought a $30,000 Mark IV, then I purchased some cheap furniture and moved my family into a three-story apartment. Three weeks later, the deal fell apart.

A couple of years later, me and Ali were featured in a commercial for WJPC AM 95. Luckily, he was hitting the phone and not my face in the commercial.

 

Back when I was a jock on Soul Socking 73 KKDA, I participated in an exhibition fight with him under one condition: no hitting below the belt.

Photo courtesy of Dewayne Dancer

Photo courtesy of Dewayne Dancer

Fast forward many years later, I had the opportunity to share the stage with Ali and another boxing great, Lennox Lewis. Lennox was a great heavyweight, but he nor anyone else will ever come close to The Champ.

Tom Ali Event

I have so many great memories with The Champ and not many people can say the same. Through it all he remained larger than life. His body failed him but it was the heart of a champion that made him great.

Rest easy, Champ.

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My Rounds With The Champ, Muhammad Ali was originally published on blackamericaweb.com

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