Special Report by Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11 Television, ABC Louisville
On Friday, June3, the “Greatest Of All Time” has passed away. Muhammad Ali died surrounded by family and loved ones in Arizona. The Louisville, Ky. native born Cassius Marcellus Clay to Cassius Sr. and Odessa Clay on January 17, 1942. Ali was the father of nine children, seven daughters and two sons.
To date Ali remains the only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion. He won the title in 1964, 1974, and 1978.
Growing up as a young girl in the same city, I would see Ali on various occasions but when I close my eyes I can vividly see him running down Broadway with his brother by his side. Muhammad and Rahman would run and shadowbox. He would be showing off and many times slowing and/or stopping traffic. As a young girl, I used to say “What in the world is he doing?” Not knowing he was preparing himself to be one of the most influential people in the world. I was familiar with boxing because it was extremely popular then. I even had Greg Page and one of his trainers Leroy Edmerson as members of my church.
In hindsight, we take those moments for granted.
Another special moment is when I ran into Ali on Fourth Street in 1986. He was sitting in the back of a box truck signing autographs in front of the Galleria which is known today as Fourth Street Live. He gave me and my mom an “Introduction to Islam” book. I remembered he laughed about our names because they were so similar (Shirley and Sherlene). He turned to me and said ‘how you spell that’ in his larger than life voice.
I’ve been following the household name pretty much all of my adult life. It was only an added bonus when I had the ability to cover events and stories involving the man who had no problem telling you “I’m so pretty,” “I’m the greatest,” and “The champ is here.” He gave hope to those that saw no hope and a voice to many who couldn’t speak for themselves.
To Louisville who has a street named in his honor, he was hometown, but to the world he was the man who floated like a butterfly and could sting like a bee. He was “The Greatest”.
Muhammad Ali died at the age of 74 leaving his wife Lonnie Ali of almost 30 years and nine children and grandchildren.
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Here’s the official link to the story.