Posts Tagged ‘baseball

02
Apr
10

Muhammad Ali was a hero but Tiger Woods is pants

By Des Kelly
Last updated at 7:47 AM on 22nd March 2010

1966 photo of Muhammad Ali

Icon: Muhammad Ali photographed in 1966

According to the hype, Tiger Woods’ impending comeback is worthy of comparison to Ali’s spectacular return to the ring 40 years ago.

Should anyone voice that ridiculous opinion within earshot, feel free to drag them from their car and beat them lightly about the head with a golf club until they come to their senses. Any court of law will agree you were provoked.

Let us examine the evidence. On the one hand we have Ali, a cultural icon, a sportsman who politicised his status as world heavyweight champion, aligned himself with the black power movement and challenged America’s attitude to non-whites and the existing social order.

An individual who refused to be drafted to the Vietnam War on principle and argued his conversion to Islam had made him a conscientious objector.

‘I ain’t got no quarrel with the Viet Cong,’ he once declared. ‘They never called me n****r.

But Ali didn’t hide. He turned up for the Army induction ceremony and stubbornly declined to budge when his name was called out on three separate occasions.

For this, he was convicted, sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000, stripped of his heavyweight title and banned from fighting in the USA.

‘Overnight he became a n****r again,’ said one promoter.

While appealing against the verdict, he travelled through America, delivering anti-War speeches at college campuses and protest rallies until 1971, when his sentence was finally overturned in the Supreme Court.

But a year earlier, as this controversy was still raging, Ali was given a license to box in Georgia by a sympathetic senator.

Swathes of the American public despised his rough, radical politics and desperately wanted him to lose against his white opponent Jerry Quarry.

The probability of this happening was high after three years exile from the ring, but Ali stopped Quarry on cuts in front of the world that night and took a giant step back towards rehabilitation in his own land.

So, to recap the situation regarding two sportsmen making a return: On the one hand, we had Ali, an individual prepared to throw his life away for something he believed in despite enormous political pressure in a time of conflict and upheaval.

Muhammad Ali v Jerry Quarry in December 1970 in GeorgiaComeback kid: Muhammad Ali (right) stopped Jerry Quarry on cuts during his comeback bout in Georgia, December 1970

On the other, we have a golfer who lost some of his sponsors because he couldn’t keep his pecker in his pants. There is no comparison.

Woods is returning from his self-imposed exile, not a government ban, because the US Masters in Augusta provides the most exclusive, benign and cosseted environment imaginable in sport.

He will not be heckled or jeered. Augusta’s ferociously strict membership policy will see to that. For goodness sake, this is a place where even the birds need a permit to chirp in the azaleas.

We’re told he will need ‘courage’ out there. Some fear the psychological test could be too much. What tosh. It’s as hermetically sealed and controlled an environment as the creepiest Woods confessional press conference.

Tiger WoodsPublic: Woods ended a self-imposed exile with a press conference (above). He is unlikely to be heckled when he returns to the tour at Augusta (below)
Tiger Woods at the 12th hole at the Augusta National Golf Club

This is the one Major that allows him to do what he does best, concentrate solely on himself, play his game, block out the world and talk about very little except the state of greens afterwards.

That’s no bad thing. I don’t want to hear any more about his private life. I don’t want to read lurid texts sold to newspapers by the bimbos and porn stars he was dumb enough to mess with. I will, however, quite happily watch him play golf again because he has long been the best.

But whatever happens, he’s no hero. And he’s definitely no Ali.

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28
Mar
10

Padres thrilled when Muhammad Ali visits clubhouse

Muhammad Ali provided the San Diego Padres will the thrill of a lifetime when he made a clubhouse visit on Monday.

Dozens of players and coaches waited in a long line to shake hands and take pictures with the boxing great, who made a 45-minute appearance for the Athletes for Hope foundation.

“This is the top unless I ever meet Michael Jordan,” outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. said. “I’m typically not star-struck, but I was today. I’m taking that picture home and I’m going to show it to my wife and have that for my kids when they get older.”

Outfielder Aaron Cunningham and reliever Mike Adams heard on Sunday that Ali might be visiting, so they each purchased a pair of boxing gloves just in case. Both walked away with autographs and a cherished memory.

“This was a different kind of shook up,” Cunningham said of his nerves. “You know how people just joke around and say, ‘The man, the myth, the legend?’ He really is the man, the myth, the legend. It was really cool and it was something I’ll never forget.”

Ali’s appearance coincided with the 39th anniversary of his loss to Joe Frazier in a 15-round title fight. Manager Bud Black said he watched many of Ali’s fights and was in awe of the boxer being in the clubhouse.

SGG-019103.jpg

“Any time you meet a legend, you feel the presence, the aura. It was cool,” Black said.

Padres officials say Ali is only scheduled to meet with a few big league teams.

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28
Mar
10

Boxing legend Ali visits US training camps

Muhammad Ali, the former world heavyweight boxing champion, visited the clubhouse of the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday as the team continued its Major League Baseball pre-season training.

The 68-year-old superstar, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, is visiting teams that train near his Arizona home in hopes of recruiting players to donate their time as part of the Athletes for Hope program.

“It’s exciting. He is one of the greatest,” said southpaw pitcher Jonathan Sanchez. “To have someone like him here makes you be better every day.”

Ali, whose friends include retired Giants’ Hall of fame legend Willie Mays, is among the founding members of Athletes for Hope, which is dedicated to community service and includes US cycling star Lance Armstrong and tennis great Andre Agassi among its members.

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28
Mar
10

Ali making rounds for charity group.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda are regular visitors around the San Francisco Giants.

But when Muhammad Ali showed up in the clubhouse Tuesday to tout his Athletes for Hope charity campaign, players, coaches, clubbies and even the general manager and owner stood in line for photos with the 68-year-old former heavyweight champion.

“I thought he was going to react and give me a right hand in the chin,” catcher Bengie Molina joked. “I was afraid.”

AP Photo/Jeff ChiuGiants pitcher Matt Cain poses with Muhammad Ali, who was visiting the clubhouse as part of his efforts for ‘Athletes for Hope.’

Right-hander Matt Cain put his pitching fist up to Ali’s left fist. Mays greeted Ali in an adjacent conference room before leaving the ballpark following the closed-door meeting.

“I know Ali,” Mays said afterward, refusing to speak further about their friendship.

Ali, who lives in Scottsdale, suffers from Parkinson’s disease. He rarely talks in public and speaks in a barely audible whisper.

“It’s great,” pitcher Dan Runzler said of meeting the man known as “The Greatest.”

Athletes for Hope has more than 1,000 members in 50 sports committed to community service and other charitable activities. Along with Ali, the organization boasts Andre Agassi, Mia Hamm and Lance Armstrong among its founding members. The focus is on donating time, not money.

“Virtually every member of this team signed up,” said Ivan Blumberg, Athletes for Hope chief executive officer. Ali visited the San Diego Padres

 on Monday and will head to Reds camp Wednesday.

Meeting Ali will be among the highlights of the spring for many of the Giants.

“It’s exciting. He is one of the greatest,” said left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, who threw an improbable no-hitter last July 10. “To have someone like him here makes you be better every day. This is different (than the Hall of Famers). This makes you feel like you want to get up every day and battle.”

Manager Bruce Bochy, GM Brian Sabean, longtime equipment manager Mike Murphy and even managing partner Bill Neukom took their turns in the chair next to Ali for pictures.

“There’s only one Muhammad Ali,” Bochy said after his team’s 6-2 win over the Chicago White Sox. “Special day. That guy’s a hero, an icon. To have his presence in our clubhouse, I know the guys really enjoyed it. This guy is a champion not just inside the ring but outside it. He has influenced so many people in the world.”
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

18
Oct
09

Muhammad Ali vs Derek Jeter!

Photos by Kathy Willens Photos by Kathy Willens 

Muhammad Ali adjusts a New York Yankees cap given to him by Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter before the Red Sox faced the Yankees in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009.

Red Sox Yankees Baseball

Muhammad Ali inspects an award presented to the Yankees from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences before the Yankees’ baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in New York, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009.

Red Sox Yankees Baseball

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