Archive for June 6th, 2016

The Greatest

Remember D-Day 72 years ago today.

Muhammad Ali had 61 fights in his professional career and 4 of them were held in H-Town. His 27th and 28th were held before he was suspended and his 33rd and 34th were held after his suspension.

I attended his 27th and 28th against Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams and Ernie Terrell at the Astrodome. He TKO-ed Williams in 3 rounds and won a unanimous decision over Terrell.   I remember both evenings were electric. Heck, they were title fights with The Greatest.

After he lost to Joe Frazier after his suspension, he fought at the Astrodome against Jimmy Ellis (won on a TKO) and Buster Mathis (won on a unanimous decision).

His other fight in H-Town was held outside of the ring over at the federal courthouse. He was charged for refusing induction into the military. He had changed his legal residence to H-Town for the draft issue.

Before Ali came on the scene in my lifetime, the sports figures I admired included Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Yogi Berra – all baseball players. When then Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston for the heavyweight title in 1964 and proclaimed himself as “The Greatest” he had me. As far as I was concerned, he stood out among professional athletes. This guy backed up his talk – wow!

Ali took his game outside of the ring and immediately starting addressing issues like race, discrimination and religion just as I was starting to pay attention to current events. He certainly was an influence on me.

When he announced that he had changed his name to Muhammad Ali and ridding Cassius Clay, I was startled at first but it didn’t diminish my admiration for him. In fact, it kind of got me to learn some things about his religion.

I wasn’t one of those – and there were tons including the Chron – who refused to say or print his new name. He was Ali to me.

When he refused serve in the military in 1967 it got me to start thinking more about my position on the Vietnam War. By 1968, I was steadfastly opposed to the war.

I was saddened when they stripped Ali of his title during his prime but admired him for his courage.

The rest is history so to speak. The rumbles and thrillers. The rope-a-dopes. The retirements. The illness.

In the summer of 1996, I nearly fell out of my chair and jumped for joy when he was the one chosen to light the flame at the Atlanta Olympics. Tears flowed as I watched his shaking arms hold the torch.

In July of 2004, I was there when he made it to The Yard to throw out the first pitch at the MLB All Star Game.   Tears again.

This is my favorite Ali quote that I have seen this past weekend:

“But 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. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him and who helped as many of his people as he could– financially and also in their fight for freedom, justice and equality. As a man who wouldn’t hurt his people’s dignity by doing anything that would embarrass them. As a man who tried to unite his people through the faith of Islam that he found when he listened to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. And if all that’s asking too much, then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxing champion who became a preacher and a champion of his people. And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was.

The Greatest. That’s all you can say. I am glad I saw him three times in my lifetime.

Let me give equal time for the folks who want to keep part of the Heights dry. Check this from next door:

This post appeared in Heights Kids this morning. If I had the time to sit and write something this is what I would have written! Please forgive me if original poster has already cross posted. Read and share! Implore your neighbors not to sign too. We have to get the word out and stop them from railroading this issue. If you’ve not yet been approached, canvassers have been knocking on doors asking for signatures to force a ballot initiative in November to repeal the prohibition of beer and wine sales for off premise consumption. They introduce themselves as part of an effort backed by HEB, but Please do not mistake these canvassers as your neighbors. They have been hired by Texas Petition Strategies of Austin, a company that has been hired to oversee collecting signatures and, if the issue makes it onto the ballot, stumping for a passing vote. The canvassers going door to door are not our neighbors. They are not part of this community. The money funding this petition drive is not coming from within the community. This is not an organic impetus for change but rather a well funded effort from outsiders seeking greater profits at the expense of our community. If we can prevent them from collecting 1500 signatures by July 6th, we can avoid the November election. Here is my argument in opposition. The prohibition of alcohol sales is one of the hallmark characteristics that make this neighborhood such a special and desirable place to live and especially to raise a family. It innoculates us against the bars and adult-themed entertainment venues that litter Montrose and Washington Avenue and provides a refuge where more family friendly businesses can thrive… funky coffee shops, flower nurseries, vinyl record shops, juice bars and yoga shops, independent book stores and bike shops, ice cream parlors and antique stores. Of course HEB can make more money selling beer and wine, but is there really no profit to be made without beer and wine sales? Why is this issue being framed as an ultimatum from HEB; change the law or we’ll go elsewhere? I would argue that the former Fiesta on Shepherd (the presumed location) did not close because of a lack of beer and wine sales but rather because the demographics of this community are changing rapidly. this is no longer a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. The target market for Fiesta dwindled and so did their profits. The former Fiesta at 13th and Studemont was outside the dry zone and did permit beer and wine sales, but was not spared either from this changing demographic tide. HEB would not suffer the same problem. They will print money from that location. The question is just how much. Their ultimatum is an insulting ploy to undo one of the few protections we have (as a community without an HOA in a city with no zoning laws) to line their pockets. If HEB is successful, I believe it is myopic to think that other profit-hungry developers won’t push similar campaigns to repeal the dry law entirely and develop more of the Heights in the style of Washington Avenue. We have something very special here in the Heights. That’s why the property in this neighborhood is so valuable to develop in the first place. We need to defend it. Repealing any portion of the dry law will irrevocably disrupt that intangible quality that makes this neighborhood so special. So please, spread the word against this petition. Thanks.

There is no MLB question today.

Let’s see, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Lisa Falkenberg held Ken Starr’s feet to the fire yesterday and some Baylor alums bought a full page ad in the Statesman yesterday supporting Starr. Oh, well.

We have won 11 of our last 13 but are 0-6 against the Rangers this season as we start a four game series against them this evening in Arlington.

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