April 30th, 2014 By Pedro Fernandez
NOT EVERYBODY CAN “TOUCH” PEOPLES LIVES
LIKE TRAVELING WITH THE POPE!
Given the task by promoter Harold Smith of watching people approach the then three person entourage that included wife Lonnie and best friend/photographer Howard Bingham during a 1994 Chinese junket beginning in Macao. We had all been in Beijing the year before, Bob Arum included, as I was part of the TV team of Hugh Malay and Arnie Rosenthal that made sports history by airing, “The Brawl at The Wall” first boxing event in China since 1949.
WATCHED ALI FEED ORPHANAGE FOR A YEAR!
Having told you about how Ali took us to an orphanage for deformed children and then picked our pockets (money was returned later) to an excess of $1,200 US, food money for some of the limbless kids there for an entire year. It wasn’t just his charitable gestures, it was just him, Ali with limited, sometimes muted speech electrifying people wherever we went.
SMITH HAD “WORKED” MEDIA FOR WEEK
Word got out in Macao that Ali was in town and people starting lining the main thoroughfare hoping for a glimpse. Unbeknownst to our party, promoter Smith, an incredibly smart man who like all of us have shortcomings, had alerted some media and with his gift for gab and fab told everybody there for a week prior to our coming that Ali would be in Macao.
ONE NEED WITNESS THE “MAGIC OF ALI”
What I think I realized on this trip more than anything else was that “Muhammad Ali touched people like no other human I’ve ever seen.” And by touching, it didn’t have to be physical. Ali would throw kisses and wave to a crowd and you would have thought somebody was handing out free money from the excitement occurring. But it was just the most recognizable face on the planet for nearly 50 years, the gleam and that half smile that made everybody present feel special.