Muhammad Ali

Cassius Clay signed Muhammad Ali Boxing Gloves

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About this piece - Over the last 20 years Bryan has passionately pursued Muhammad Ali's signature.  Bryan grew up watching boxing with his father and was educated as a young boy on Boxing. Like most Boxing fans, he was enamored with the gregarious personality of Muhammad Ali. In 1992, Bryan had his first ever encounter in person with the "Greatest of All Time" at a convention in Toronto.  Bryan recalls Muhammad showing him several Magic tricks and being quite the comedian.  This experience only perpetuated Bryan's desire to meet Muhammad again, which he did several times over the last 20 years. Each experience has been unique from the next and each time the Champ has treated Bryan and other individuals with the utmost unconditional love and respect.  Bryan notes that Muhammad has ALWAYS treated each person he comes across with the same respect and love, despite their motivations for meeting Muhammad, and regardless of the color of their skin or their religious background or beliefs. This is why people young and old, black, white, brown, or green across the World give Muhammad the same unconditional love back.  Bryan recalls two books that told great first hand stories of The Champ that changed his life. Those books were Malcolm X's autobiography and a book about Ali's life titled "King of the World" by David Remnick.  In the book "King of the World" Ali recounts a story from his childhood when he first came to NYC with trainer and manager Angelo Dundee. Ali was only a young teen at the time but was a highly touted young boxer from Kentucky and Angelo was proud to show him off to the Champions of that time. One of those Champs, was the Great Sugar Ray Robinson, who was Ali's hero as a teen. So, as the story goes Dundee knew where Sugar Ray went everyday in Harlem, and brought a young Cassius Clay to meet his idol. When Sugar Ray pulled up in his pink cadillac and Angelo tried to introduce Cassius to him, Sugar Ray just ignored them both and walked on by. As Ali recounts in this book, he turned to Dundee and said "When I become Champ, I will never treat any of my fans like that."  This moment was a poignant one for Cassius who (whether) partly because of that experience has lived up to that statement and his integrity has remained as Golden as the belts he wore around his waist.  


Bryan's unique personal experiences can attest to that integrity, as he recounts his most memorable encounter with the Champ in Beverly Hills in 2004.  It was 12 noon when Bryan was driving his car down Wilshire blvd and did a double take as he couldn't believe his own eyes. Standing by himself in front of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel was none other than Muhammad Ali. Bryan quickly stopped his car and took a picture with Muhammad, and then decided to make an attempt to go to a local sporting goods store to get some boxing gloves for Muhammad to sign. This bold move paid off for Bryan as he returned in 30 minutes to see Muhammad still outside the Hotel, however now the Champ was surrounded by many tourists and a controlling Hotel security guard.  When Muhammad began to move inside the Hotel lobby, only Bryan attempted to go with him, and the security guard warned Bryan that "if he stepped foot inside the lobby he would be arrested for trespassing."  As Muhammad heard this threat, he put his arm around Bryan and gave that security guard a stare down as if he were George Foreman in 1974. Instantly the security guard walked away.  What ensued next is truly one of Bryan's most treasured pieces of signature art.  Bryan still had a few items he wanted Muhammad to sign. One was an "ALI" movie poster with Will Smith. Muhammad signed the front of the poster and then turned it over to the back side which was like a white blank canvas for an artist.  Muhammad then dropped to his hands and knees on the lobby floor and began to slowly and methodically draw something very special for about 10 minutes. Bryan watched this in amazement and could see that Muhammad was drawing a boxing ring with one big boxer who had "Ali" written above him and a small boxer with the name "Frazier" written above him.  Then Muhammad filled in meticulously a ringside of fans and signed and dated the piece on the bottom right corner like an artist.  Bryan was able to capture this on film as he knew this was a very special moment.  As Bryan thanked Muhammad profusely for this treasure, Muhammad asked Bryan if he'd like to join him for ice cream in the hotel restaurant. Overwhelmed by this gesture, Bryan naturally accepted and the two enjoyed another incredible moment together, sharing stories and eating ice cream.  This day will remain with Bryan for his life and the goodwill that he has learned from meeting Muhammad is something that Bryan tries to pass on to others.  



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