the greatest



From the time I was an adolescent, I had this black and white postcard gladly tacked to a bulletin board in every place I ever lived. I very clearly remember that the first time I ever saw this now-iconic 1965 Neil Leifer photograph of an enraged Muhammad Ali (still known then as Cassius Clay) standing over a stunned Sonny Liston — screaming at Liston to get back up and fight him — I gasped out loud at the righteousness of it.

The audacity of it.

The generosity of it.

The beauty of it.

The entirety of the fight for life that we ALL fight is contained in just this one photograph.

Even now, just looking at it causes a profoundly visceral reaction in me. It took my breath away all those many years ago, and it takes my breath away still. I knew even back then — as a little girl who didn’t even really understand what boxing was — that captured within this photograph was an essence, a belief, an idea, that I had already carried within me and called upon, even at age 10. An image that would save my life over and over and over again when I found myself in peril or despair:

Muhammad Ali standing over me, shouting…demanding that I reach down deep into who I was and, even more importantly, who I wanted to be…and STAND THE FUCK BACK UP…AND FIGHT.

One of the most courageous, influential, principled, powerful, astonishing, inspiring, entertaining, maddening, magical human beings of our time passes tonight into history. He was a GOD walking the earth and his like shall surely not ever pass this way again. How could it?

He was The Greatest.

And, I adored him.

Requiescat in Pace, Muhammad Ali.


About muffybolding

Muffy Bolding is a mother/writer/actor/knitter/feminist/withered debutante who likes the smell of asparagus pee, and remains obsessed with the bathroom hygiene of her three children -- despite the fact that they are 23, 19, and 16. She is blissfully married to a cute Jewish boy who looks like Willie Wonka, but remains tragically in love with the dead poet, Ted Hughes. She has the mouth of a Teamster, and her patron saint is Rocco (pestilence relief.) Ms. Bolding lives in Southern California, where she enjoys typing words, making movies, and plucking the rings from the fingers of the dead. She was the co-creator and Editor-in-Chief of the award winning satire zine, Fresno Lampoon, and in between writing screenplays, carnival barking, and savagely threatening her trio of darling larvae with a wooden spoon, she currently publishes the zine, "Withered Debutante." More of her work can also be found in the anthology, "Mamaphonic: Balancing Motherhood and Other Creative Acts", the compilation zine, "Mamaphiles III: Coming Home", as well as in The Cortland Review and She is currently writing and producing for film and television, and working on a book of essays entitled, "Inside A Chinese Dragon." She has slept around, but not nearly as much as she would have liked.
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