I searched long for it this afternoon, and I finally found it – a poem I wrote for Muhammad Ali, back in 1988 (my, where did the years go?). I was 14 and had just started exploring the world with words.
This is a long-overdue salute from me
To him who has truly amazed the world
He who is the greatest boxer the world will ever see
And has been proclaimed the ‘Greatest of them all’
This is a long-overdue salute to Muhammad Ali.
It’s almost impossible that it should be
That he could be so good for nearly every bout
For he could really float like a butterfly and sting like a bee
He’d dance in and kill, then dance and get out.
The world started noticing him when he beat Sonny Liston
That’s when he beat him with his mouth before the real fight
Then he continued shoutin’ and screamin’ and boastin’ and braggin’
And decking every heavyweight that was in sight.
In America there’s meant to be religious freedom, really,
Yet when Cassius Clay became a muslim
And changed his name to Muhammad Ali
He became the most unpopular champion since Jack Johnson.
Ali’s list of victims grew quite long
And he became known as the fastest heavyweight in the history of boxing
But when he refused to fight the Viet-Cong
He gave the racists the chance to ban him from fighting.
But the people never forgot Ali – never!
And he always stood up for what he knew was right
And when he let them know he’d ‘retire Joe Frazier’
THEY just had to let him come back and fight.
His three-year lay-off had its toll
When he lost to Norton and he lost to Frazier
But he evened out the scores and beat them two-one
After breaking Foreman down, down here in Zaire.
He slackened and Leon Spinks snatched away the throne
But Ali came back and showed him who was King
He then retired, then came back for the new King, Holmes
But his freelancing had caught up and he could only do his pre-fight sing.
Ali will never again come back to the ring
Because he’s suffering from Parkinson’s Disease
But though the Butterfly has lost its wings and the bee its sting
The saga of Ali will never cease.
He is the greatest.
Che Chidi Chukwumerije
05. July, 1988.