Interesting Stuff

Encountering “The Greatest” In Boise

The death of Muhammad Ali prompted the following memory by editor DAVE FRAZIER.

Time has blurred the date, but it was about 25 years ago that I was driving south on Capitol Blvd. when I noticed a great big black man standing in front of Victor’s Restaurant talking to a little boy.
Muhammad Ali
I did a double take and there was no doubt the Big Guy was none other than Muhammad Ali!

I stomped on the brakes, made a quick right turn and jumped out of the car, camera in hand. Rather than the famous loudmouth, I was met by a very kind, gentleman who was looking for friends. No one else was around, just Ali and the kid. I asked if I could snap a few photos and he offered a very shy grin and quietly asked, “Wanna see a magic trick?”

He’s the champ. Of COURSE I want to see anythingt he can offer. He pulled out a handkerchief and did a slight of hand trick.

“Wanna see it again, he asked as I burned through a roll of film (remember film?). He’s the champ, of COURSE I want to see it again! I thanked him and shook that famous right hand.

The pictures eventually made the rounds of the popular entertainment magazines throughout the world. Ali was in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease by then, but most folks just said he was “punch drunk.”

Turned out was in Boise to promote a new car dealership, but with no escort or host, he was pretty much aimless and looking for company.

I drove away giddy at getting a “scoop” and shaking that famous right, but just a little sad that “the greatest” was fading.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Yossarian_22
    Jun 5, 2016, 7:29 am

    He really was a good man. He had a heart of gold. Glad you got to meet him. I remember watching a 60 Minutes piece on him by the late Ed Bradley and Ali, afflicted with Parkinson’s, managed to pull off a gag on Ed. It was great and he was the greatest.

  2. At the time of Ali’s visit to Boise 25 or so years ago, I worked for the City. He was scheduled to drop in on City Hall and meet the mayor. (If I’m not mistaken, it was a fella named Dirk Kempthorne.)

    I wasn’t going to miss a chance at a “brush with greatness,” so at the appointed time I drifted casually up to the 3rd floor (mayor’s office and council chambers) and hung around. The scheduled meeting never happened. Probably because Ali got delayed up the street at Victors, huh, Dave? (haha!)

    I can confidently declare that in his prime, Ali was the most famous person on the planet! I was in Uruguay, South America in ’73 and ’74 (LDS mission)… lots of people knew about the pope, and lots of people knew about Nixon… EVERYBODY knew about Ali! (And somehow he was just as much a hero to the Uruguayos as he was to the citizens of Louisville, KY.)

  3. Nice shot, Dave!

    His deep humility shines in that image.

    Share more of your work, please!

    Did you get one of Ali with the kid, who’s in his 30s by now (& would probably die for such a memento)?

    EDITOR NOTE–Image was made on film and the best are still with my agent in London.

  4. One of the greatest for sure. I’ve been watching some of his fights again. Such a giant. I would have loved to meet him in person. Thanks for sharing your story.

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