By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
Muhammad Ali 1942-2016 Celebrating ‘The Greatest’ of All Time
In a Real Combat Media international exclusive interview live during the Muhammad Ali funeral procession, former heavyweight Nate Tubbs and former Muhammad Ali sparring partner Mahmoud Fadel sounded in on the activities for Muhammad Ali in progress in Louisville, Kentucky, their friendships with Ali, and Muhammad Ali’s legacy.
Tens of thousands lined the final route of Muhammad Ali’s hearse and vehicular funeral procession, waving, cheering, talking about it, shouting “Ali! Ali!”, “Champ!”, and “Muhammad Ali, we love you!” and “Ali Boomaye!” as it slowly traveled through the streets of Louisville, past his childhood home and the Muhammad Ali Freedom Center, and other important places in his lifetime in his hometown. Some threw roses and other flowers which stuck to the front of the hearse windshield, unable to contact their grief, or perhaps fully accept or belief the man called ‘The Greatest’, who did so much for his hometown, for other people and the world, was finally gone.
While some took pictures with cameras and cellphones, others reached forward in stoic silence to gently touch the hearse car, or just looked on silently simply caught in the moment. The hearse slowly but surely made its way to Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisvlle, also the final resting place of Kentucky Fried Chicken legend Colonel Harland Sanders.
Ali himself selected a simple plot in the 300 acre cemetery, and a simply Muslim stone.
Reporters also lined the hearse procession route, along with police in uniform.
At one point, several young men ran along the hearse, one carrying a huge placard which read ‘Ali Is The Greatest Thanks 4 All The Memories’.
One television reporter noted how Ali had taken an ordinary name like John smith, called himself Muhammad Ali, and made his ordinary name so important. Ali had made created a scenario where people of all races, colors, religions, and nationalities, and had them chant his Muslim name. The referent serves to prevent worldwide hatred of Islam due to Islamic terrorist activities, which should not cause people to discriminate against Islamic people.
Ali’s funeral served more as a celebration of his life, rather than a somber event, which is what he predicted it would be and ultimately wanted.
Robert Brizel: “Nate, when did you find out Muhammad Ali had passed away?”
Nate Tubbs: “I saw it on the local station news (in Cincinnati), and a bunch of people called me. Mike Tyson called me.”
Robert Brizel: “Was the funeral preplanned well in advance years ago?”
Nate Tubbs: “A funeral plan was in effect by Ali and his wife Lonnie. They had pre arrangements. They told me the ceremony (yesterday) would last a half hour, but it lasted three hours. The King of Jordan, President Bill Clinton, Bryan Gumbel, and Billy Crystal were among those who spoke. The Rev. Louis Farrakhan, The Rev. Jesse Jackson and the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan were among those in attendance.”
Reader’s Note: People of all faiths were welcome and in attendance at Ali’s Islamic funeral ceremony.
Robert Brizel: Who was at Ali’s funeral ceremony who you knew?”
Nate Tubbs: “Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Bernard Hopkins, Sugar Ray Leonard, Lennox Lewis, and Hasim Rahman (among others) at the North Hall at Freedom Center. Mike Tyson arrived today.”
Robert Brizel: Tell me about the close relationship between Muhammad Ali and your brother Tony Tubbs, the former world heavyweight champion.”
Robert Brizel: “Did Muhammad Ali buy Tony a house?”
Nate Tubbs: “Muhammad bought my mom a house in Cincinnati 35 years ago in 1980, when Tony turned pro. Pearl Smith was Ali’s promoter. She was the Don King of the early 1970’s and 1980’s.”
Robert Brizel: What was Muhammad Ali the man like?”
Mahmoud Fadel: “All he (Ali) wanted to do (in his lifetime) was help people and down and out boxers with no money and food to eat.”
Robert Brizel: “Mahmoud, how did you feel about Ali’s passing?”
Mahmoud Fadel: “I felt bad. At the same time I felt decent because Ali was not suffering (anymore).”
Mahmoud Fadel: “About two years ago. He was conscious of it (his own mortality). He knew sooner or later he was gonna die because he was suffering from the Parkinson’s (and it was getting progressively worse). Ali was like a brother to me. We were supposed to fight each other in the Middle East. I was his sparring partner in Miami. I said c’mon, let’s fight each other, and have a good time (Patel expected a good payday but he did not expect to win). Muhammad was looking forward to it, but it never happened. Muhammad did not want to fight anybody he considered to be a close friend, and we were close friends then.”