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Muhammad Ali Remembered As Junior World Championship of Boxing Hits MSG Saturday

Felix Verdejo (Peter Amador/Top Rank)

Felix Verdejo (Peter Amador/Top Rank)


“I am the greatest.  I said that even before I knew I was.  I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest,” said the late Muhammad Ali, but even the greatest can express fear.

On the eve of Muhammad Ali’s funeral, Top Rank boxers along with Madison Square Garden’s staff and his promoter, Bob Arum shared there stories about Ali.

George Kalinsky, Madison Square Garden’s head photographer developed a relationship with Ali that went beyond the ring.

Kalinsky vividly remembers speaking to Ali a month before “The Rumble in the Jungle.” It was a moment where Ali went from being this superhero-like figure to someone who was scared.

Ali called Kalinsky asking to meet him in private, so the two met inside a press box inside the Garden.

“He said to me in one month I’m fighting George Foreman.  He’s too big, he’s too fast, he’s too young and I don’t think I can beat him,” Kalinsky said of the conversation with Ali.

“I said, you know Muhammad, you’ve been fighting your whole life in the ring and you’ve been training with your sparring partners with your back against the rope.  I think if you go into the ring with your back against the ropes, you’ll eventually tire him out,” Kalinsky said.

And the rest is history, Ali defeated Foreman in the legendary fight in 1974.

Ali brought boxing to the international platform and paved the way for young boxers all over the world,  including the boxers fighting Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

“Ali popularized boxing all over the world,” said Ali’s former promoter, Bob Arum.  “It’s great that young people all over the world are participating in boxing.”

Top Rank boxing is bringing The Junior World Championship of Boxing to The Garden this weekend.  And boxers say, it’s an honor fighting just one day after the greatest boxer is laid to rest.  Felix Verdejo, better known as the Pride of Puerto Rico will be fighting against Juan Jose Martinez Saturday night for the lightweight championship.  And Verdejo says fighting where Ali fought eight times is a true honor.

Verdejo says, “I am fighting for Muhammad Ali in his honor and it will be a great fight.”

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Diane Quail

Diane is a Staff Writer here at
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