“The Fight Of The Century” Turns 40

In an ideal world, moments, not years, would be what we remember life by. Ask a person to tell you what happened in 1984 and they’ll probably draw a blank. But I bet they recall exactly what was going on when Marvin Gaye was killed. Or when September 11th stunned the world. Or when JFK or Malcolm X or Martin Luther King were assassinated. Or when the OJ chase superseded everything on television, including a NBA Finals game. Or when Barack Obama’s election inspired a country downtrodden by a crippling recession. We remember moments because it is damn near impossible not to.

Sports, arguably more so than any other grain of society, causes them because of the love affair it unavoidably creates with us. Love and memories go hand-in-hand. I’m thankful enough to be able to say I saw Michael Jordan completely alter pop culture. I’m thankful enough to say I saw Brett Favre through his glory and not-so-glory days. I’m thankful enough to say I saw Lance Armstrong win seven consecutive Tour De Frances after beating a cancer that consumed 95% of his body. If God allows me to see 100 years on this planet, I will not forget any of those moments because they are as big a part of my matriculation as anything else. However, life is all about living with regrets, with one of mine being never having the opportunity to see Muhammad Ali in his prime.

Today celebrates the 40th anniversary of a paramount moment in 20th century folklore. Seeing as how the first Joe Frazier/Ali fight took place 15 years before I was even thought of, my memories come from hand-me-down accounts. I even texted my grandma earlier today informing her of what the anniversary was. She subsequently responded (yes, my grandma knows how to send text messages), “Wow, it doesn’t seem that long.” This is coming from a woman who enjoys sports at her own leisure, but can tell you what has happened on every episode of Young & The Restless quicker than she can name three boxers. This championship collision was more than magnetic. It was a moment why sports were created in the first place.

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