Mom, Dad, Uncle Marvin, and Ali

I was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Raised 24 miles south in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. To this day, I have family members who live in the heart of the Derby City. Outside of Kentucky and Louisville basketball, and horse racing, anyone close to the Louisville area couldn’t escape the presence of the “Champ.”

(Source: portrait photography)

Whether it was billboards, quotes, watching VHS tapes of his greatest battles in the squared circle, or adults explaining to me his importance out of the ring, “Champ” was everywhere throughout my childhood.

So after his passing late Friday, and after reading tons of articles, and re-watching YouTube videos well into the early morning Saturday, I called three people separately. All three were over the age of 50, that met him, and in their respective lives gave me insight into what “Champ” meant to them. My Mom, Dad, and my uncle Marvin:

 

 

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The Meeting

 

Mom (came to Louisville in 1979):

“I was in my 30’s. I was at Nancy’s hair boutique off Naomi Drive. It was a strip mall, a grocery store, a barber shop, a wig shop. And actually you used to get your hair cut there. A bank sat on the corner. Gosh, Lilian Yarbrough was my cosmetologist at the time. I went there that particular Saturday, all the ladies were under the hair dryer, and all this commotion was going on outside. Horns sounding, people screaming. Everybody was happy. Nancy (who owned the boutique) knew him because she was known in and around the city as a business woman. I don’t know what was going on, but something was going on.
Throngs of people outside, it was about 10 AM on a Saturday morning. All these men, with these suits, and these two ladies were with him. People were coming out of the supermarket, you saw the limosesnes, women were coming out of their houses with rollers in their head. People screaming Cassius Clay! Muhammad Ali! These two ladies were with him, one caught my eye. She had a Queen Latifah, Halle berry (skin) tone.

One lady had a soft baby blue, two piece, Taylor made suit. She had on some real nice pointed toe pumps on, she just caught my eye. Shoulder length hair, pink lipstick. Fair, not light skinned, a shade darker than I am. He (Ali) came out of a car, suit coat, no tie, all kinds of body guards. He was true to form, picking up the babies, shuffling his feet, talking trash. The whole nine. It was really something to see.

He was very cordial.  I told Your Dad after the fact he was a nice looking man, but when I shook his hand they were small. And I remember when he walked by, he smelled really good.”

Dad (came to Louisville 1964):

“The gym ain’t even there anymore. Hell I was young myself. I believe it was on Grant and Cecil, or on Cecil, I’m not sure. I was 18,19, might have been 20. Me and Bill Jones (friend) would go around the gym because we wanted to see the other people training. Clay was older than me, and was training. I didn’t come here till 1964, it was some years after that when I saw him. He was sparring and stuff. He looked more like a kid, had that damn lip. You could could hear him over in the next ring runnin that damn mouth. Met him. He spoke to everybody. He’d wave at you. Everybody, different age groups. That’s when I thought I could box, until a guy named Marcus Anderson made me see blue stars (laughter). I knew his daddy better than him. He was a construction painter, painting signs, houses. You know, he’s the one that painted they house pink. I knew his daddy cause I used to run around with Johnny Page (cousin of Greg Page, former heavyweight champion, also from Louisville). His momma used to have a brick house around the Buechel area.

Never did see him anywhere else.”

Uncle Marvin (came to Louisville October 22nd 1972):

“I worked at Sears for two years, and then went to overnight (trucking service, later bought by UPS).

I had to deliver freight to UofL’s campus bookstore. As I drove up to the loading dock, I noticed a crowd of people. It was by the loading area, and you knew it was him. I saw people around, and thought it was Ali.

He was with Bundini Brown. Somebody else was with him passing out Quran books. He was signing autographs (on the Quran). It’s green. I still have it and he signed it.

Just small talk, and he was cuttin up. I stayed for about ten minutes. I’ll say it was ’80 or ’79. He was so sharp, quick-witted.

I was on cloud nine. I shook his hand, hugged him. He looked lean, fit.

He was a jokester.

A experience I’ll never forget .”

 

 

 

 

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The Fan

Uncle Marvin: “I was scared to death. I told people this, I said man, I love Ali to death, but he’s bitten off more than he can chew. My stomach was turning, I couldn’t eat nothing.

It was about right around midnight when the fight was shown at Freedom Hall. Me, Prince, and some of the guys I went to UEI trade school with went to see it.

Foreman was pounding ’em.  And I was screaming, get off the ropes! Get off the ropes! Made ’em punch his self out, and Ali went to work on ’em.

When he went down, it was loud. I ain’t ever went to a ball game that was that crowded. Shoulder to shoulder. I was so relieved.
That fight taught me a valuable lesson. Styles make fights. Ali was a thinking fighter.”

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The Decline

Uncle Marvin:  “It hurt me to my heart to see him fight Larry Holmes. Larry Holmes himself knew he had only a shell of a man. I bet ya right now, Larry Holmes regrets it.

I knew he shouldn’t have took the fight. I almost cried. That hurt me so bad. I loved Ali just that much.

Ali shoulda retired after the second Spinks fight.

When I heard the slur in his voice. When he fought in the Norton fight, I picked up on it then, I didn’t know what it was, he was just getting older, and then it came out that he had Parkinson’s.”

 

 

 

 

 

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The Man

Mom: “He was genuine, real human being. Even being a polarizing figure. Here was this black man, in the 60’s, who was strong in his convictions. He was controversial, but he believed what he believed.”

Uncle Marvin: “He epitomizes what a strong black role model is. I like him for his courage, what he was up against. He always trying to help folks. “

Mom: “Some white people didn’t know what to expect, and some black people were mad, because he converted to Islam, and many came from baptist church upbringings.”

Uncle Marvin: “I’ll be honest with you. If there’s a person that’s great, it’s Muhammad Ali. I think he’s the greatest ambassador for our generation. He did stuff that the president couldn’t do. He went overseas, brought peace everywhere he went. He’s the biggest figure I’ve ever known in my life. I looked up to him because I respect what he did for boxing and the whole world.”

Mom: “One word to describe him, bold.”

Uncle Marvin: “He’s an extraordinary man.

He’s the biggest figure I’ve ever met in my life. “

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Four for Thursday

After a two week break, The Clipboard is back with four thoughts heading into this week:

1. Jeremy Johnson or Sean White?

The preseason hype surrounding Auburn was as hot as this song still is right now. Fast forward to five games into the season, and the Tigers are hoping for a decent bowl game that’s warm, and a starting quarterback that can jolt the offense and gain momentum toward a potential bounce back year in ’16. Jeremy Johnson got benched, Sean White came in, and now what? It appears that Gus Malzahn’s making everyone wait till tonight to see who will start.

My two cents: I have no earthly idea who will be the starter, and I have no earthly idea what Auburn will do from here till season’s end. Fair or not, one thing’s for certain. If they look awful tonight on the road against Kentucky, Tigers fans may want something more than just a new quarterback.

2. Another shootout in College Station?

I picked Georgia to beat Alabama on October 3rd. Didn’t turn out so well. Any Alabama fan worth their hounds tooth had reservations about that game for one reason. Jake Coker. Nothing more, nothing less. Turns out Grayson Lambert was the weak link for the Bulldogs in the 38-10 drubbing.

Now it’s another game I’m picking against the Tide, and it’s at Texas A&M. The Tide defense has been outstanding, with some players even saying they have the best unit in the country. Doesn’t hurt that a Huntsville native is playing the best within the unit. I picked the other QB (Lambert) against Coker earlier this season, I’m picking the other QB (Kyle Allen) Saturday along with the 12th man to knock off the Tide. Feel free to vent your frustrations at me Saturday night if the Tide (for the 1 trillionth time) prove me wrong and win similar to last season’s victory.

3. Khaki’s. Ann Arbor’s new fashion trend.

I’m a San Francisco 49ers fan. I love Jim Harbaugh.  Much like many college football fans, it wasn’t “if” but “when” Michigan would return to relevancy. Guess we have our answer after 6 games:

5-1 (only loss to the 4th ranked team in the country).

Since that loss, the Wolverines have surrendered a grand total of 14 points.

The last three games. 31-0. 28-0. 38-0.

The biggest test is Saturday when Michigan State comes to Ann Arbor. The Spartans already short handed with a handful of key players MIA due to the injury bug.

If the Wolverines find a way to win Saturday, that hype train will keep pushing to that game on November 28th.

4. The HBC

As a tyke growing up in Kentucky, with a rooting interest  in a football team from South Bend, all while watching every Jefferson Pilot SEC televised game, I had ZERO clue who Steve Spurrier was coming to Florida from Duke of all places. Once he made his presence felt in Gainesville as a head coach (visor and all), It was a rude awakening for the rest of the league. I even remember watching college football as a teenager, and seeing a score pop up that I couldn’t ever believe I would ever see again.

Jack Jackson, Danny Wuerffel, Javon Kearse, Errict Rhett, Reidel Anthony, Jabar Gaffney, Jacquez Green, Ike Hillard, Kevin Carter, Ellis Johnson, Alex Taylor, Fred Taylor, Lito Sheppard, were some of my favorite Gators ever.

The South Carolina run was fun to watch as well (let’s forget the Redskins happened), and getting to see the HBC in person at a handful of SEC Media Days was fun also in my professional career.

Here’s to you Stephen Orr Spurrier. You’ve made this great game of college football better. I hope to see you on a sideline just one more time before you turn in your visor.

Enjoy the games this weekend everyone.

Football Friday Thoughts…

(Source:fsunews.com)

THOUGHTS FROM LAST WEEK, AND UPCOMING GAMES THIS WEEK:

–So, the game of the weekend will belong to Florida St. and Clemson. The winner with an  inside track toward an ACC Championship game berth and possibly much more. As explosive as Clemson is on offense, The Noles D will come to play. I think FSU’s D has the chance to be as good as Alabama and LSU’s.

–Speaking of LSU, they travel to Auburn for a night game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Bayou Bengals will win, but I’m VERY interested in seeing QB Zach Mettenberger play his first road League game as a starter. Idaho, Washington, etc are great to throw against at Tiger Stadium, It’s also another in your first hostile environment.

–With all that said, RB Kenny Hillard is a MAN. He was the back I liked the most last season and this year he has established himself as the guy or someone that will get a ton of minutes. And don’t forget about Spencer Ware,  and freshman Jeremy Hill, Alfred Blue, the list goes on and on.

–What happens in Fayetteville if the Arkansas loses Saturday to 3-0 Rutgers? If it isn’t already a mess, the ol’ head coach of the Hogs had the college football world buzzing for…all the wrong reasons.. Still some funny stuff… Remember.. SMILE!!!!

–I know that Arizona and Rich Rodriguez have had some early season success (wins over Okla state included), but things change this week. Oregon is for real folks. Two words: WARP SPEED. They may score 65. And I’m not joking.

(Source:timwebbphotography.com)

–Yes, I have to show some love for my Alma Mater. Western Kentucky University got a nice win over Kentucky on the road in Overtime. Kinda surreal, with running back Antonio Andrews throwing the throw back pass to QB Kewaun Jakes for the go ahead two point conversion… I actually covered Antonio Andrews in High school during my first job out of college. He was named Mr Football in the state, and was electric. But because of his size, many larger schools were turned off… the rest is history, he will be a great player at WKU.

–Now. To UK. Wow. Joker Philips could be gone by the end of October. If I’m AD Mitch Barnhardt, I’m making calls to a few coaches that A) know the SEC, B) Have experience and knows what it takes to win in this league, and C) can bring credibility to the program….

— That short list for me would consist of Bobby Petrino, Bobby Petrino, Bobby Petrino. Yes he has had A HUGE scandal a year ago, but why wouldn’t you take a feeler for him? He’s coached in the state (Louisville) and could bring instant credibility to a program that has everything to win.

–If Notre Dame wins Saturday night against Michigan, the AP poll will put them in the top 7 in the country, especially if they look impressive doing so.

–But to me, Michigan’s is WAY overrated, and a year or two away from being a player nationally, Still Brady Hoke is a heck of a coach by the way.

—Dear Cory Henry,

Please be Careful what you wish for Saturday.. safe travels dude.

Signed,

A Concerned Sportscaster that is afraid of your team losing by 1,000,000,000 points.

Read below:

http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/8403803/florida-atlantic-owls-cory-henry-tells-newspaper-alabama-crimson-tide-beat

–If you haven’t heard of Teddy Bridgewater, look him up. He’s a Star in the making.

— I love Colin Klein,Bill Synder, and Kansas State. That’s why I think the road trip to Norman to face Oklahoma will be a close one. If Oklahoma is a top 5-10 team and a legit BCS Title contender, you MUST win this game… if not.. We now understand the UTEP game to start the season. Oh, and the MASK is back, enjoy Below:

RANDOM COMMERCIAL THAT CRACKS ME UP:

So it’s Little Ceasers. And this guy is hilarious. I laughed aloud when I first saw it, and laugh every time I see it.

REALITY TV TIME!

A HUGE Shout out to Whitney M! My friend will join Andy Cohen in the WWHL Lounge:

Congrats to her! I just want a shout out on the show. Don’t judge.

That’s it for this Friday, enjoy the games and I’ll be back next week…

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@CarlPratherWAFF

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