Kabacan, North Cotabato—Retired heavy weight boxing champion Muhammad Ali demised recently but he left a sparkling record in the history of sports. Among them was his fight against Joe Frazier at Philippine Coliseum, Quezon City, Philippines called the “Thrilla in Manila” on October 1, 1975.
A Group of Bangsamoro students from Cotabato welcomed the great fighter at Ortanez University, Quezon City. The gathering was sponsored by certain Dr. La Madrid of the University mentioned.
The herein writer was among the welcoming-participants for the boxing champ. Muhammad Ali sat beside Dr. La Madrid with some University officials on the stage.
We sang the song entitled: “Muhammad Ali, the champion, the champion” on the stage. After singing, I remained on the stage for some minutes. There and then, I shook hands with the great champ.
I observed from the boxing icon that he was not only a great fighter in the ring but also a good speaker. He was an intelligent fellow, a smooth skinned American black, a tall man with quite long arms and with soft palms of his hands.
He was billeted at the former Manila Hilton, a premier hotel in the country that time.
One Friday thereafter, he visited to pray at a mosque in the Muslim Centre, Echague, Quiapo, Manila. Following the group of the boxing champ were many people from various sectors.
Among those guarding the important guest was a team of Presidential Security Group (PSG) and employees of the Malacanan Palace. The PSG members were forcing their way to enter the mosque which the praying crowd objected.
Thereafter, we engaged the PSGs in a pushing fray to eject them out of the mosque for some hours until the congregation prayer was over and the champ returned to his quarter.
We admired the boxing legend not only his prowess in fighting inside the ring but also for his generosity. He departed leaving huge amount for the improvement of the old mosque.