Ode to Muhammad Ali and Drinking Too Much Coffee
Listening to the radio on a cold, February night in 1964, my uncle and I drank a sea of coffee, feeling quite raucous, sitting in chairs on his tiny, cluttered, living-room floor.
Our focus was on the “Cassius Clay versus Sonny Liston” boxing match, visually available only live or on closed-circuit TV, a broadcast event I would remember forevermore.
Just a kid, too young to be drinking java at such a late hour; but that didn’t matter to me. You see, my uncle was a recovering alcoholic. Une tasse de café was now his drink of choice, and legal for me to devour. I was glad he was clean and sober.
The rush of caffeine, and all the excitement which blared from the Grundig’s speaker, kept this wide-eyed youngster awake overnight until the birds began chirping, my hearing the phrase in my head, “I am the greatest,” over and over, until I fell finally sleeping.
We took a serving every four minutes from the start and in between rounds for the duration of the fight, amounting to seven cups of coffee each, containing eight ounces apiece; or at least fifty-six shots of Joe were consumed by me that night.
My stomach sloshed and churned while walking home after the event, crossing Uncle Leon’s street and short-cutting through an alley before catching my back door in sight. Not to mention watering a hedgerow of bushes, was that all right?
Clay that evening proved to the world and me that a proclaimed underdog could become the greatest on Earth, float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
He defeated the undisputed heavyweight champ, an insurmountable challenge as declared by many; his coming back years later and capturing the title again on two more occasions as Muhammad Ali:
Once from George Foreman after Ali was stripped of his title and boxing license for sticking to his guns, conscientiously objecting to enter what he believed was an unjust war;
And secondly after losing the title legitimately to Leon Spinks, capturing it back from him seven months later to reign once again.
Noted for being a man of strong convictions, an American and counter-culture icon, an activist for his beliefs, and a generous, goodhearted being,
Ali inspired an entire generation, showing us all that we could be what we wanted to be, expressing life’s genuine meaning:
To never back down, keep one’s head held high, and most importantly, to stay true to oneself and others.
My uncle is long gone and now Ali, as well as many of my other life-long heroes who lately are leaving me rapidly, steadily behind.
Everyday when seeing one of the remaining few are trending on Social Media, I pray it isn’t them who were next.
This makes me grateful for the ones who are left, wishing they would never die, hoping they will stay around for a good long time to come.
More proof that only the good die young.
I put up another pot of coffee. Care for some?
Thanks for reading and for your continued support.