ESPN ranked him as the #3 athlete of the century, behind Jordan and Ruth. Time Magazine rated him among the 100 most important people of the 20th Century. So on the 40th Aniversary of the Ali-Liston fight, the quote of the day goes to Mohammed Ali (via Simon Barnes, linked below):
"I'll tell you how I'd like to be remembered: as a black man who won the heavyweight title and who was humorous and who treated everyone right."
Here's a stunner from Larry Schwartz' bio on ESPN:
"When the military attempted to draft him, Ali said he was a conscientious objector. "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong," he had said in 1966.
Appearing for his scheduled induction on April 28, 1967 in Houston, he refused three times to step forward at the call of his name. An officer warned him he was committing a felony punishable by five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Once more Ali refused to budge when his name was called.
That day, the New York State Athletic Commission suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his title. Other boxing commissions followed suit.
At the trial two months later, the jury, after only 21 minutes of deliberation, found Ali guilty. The judge imposed the maximum sentence."
Courage of conviction in Houston. Suspended in New York on the same day. Guilty in 21 minutes. Maximum sentence. My, times have changed. As Simon Barnes argues in "The greatest story sports has told," Ali deserves some of the credit for that.