CNN contributor Bob Greene had an interesting commentary today at CNN.com.
It apparently was inspired by sighting boxing legend Muhammad Ali at a Chicago restaurant.
When this happened isn't mentioned, only that Ali was one of a party of 10 celebrating the birthday of someone named "Marilyn." But it probably doesn't matter.
Ali was the person who drew everyone's attention. As always.
"He may be the only one who remembers his life when it was any other way," Greene wrote in his conclusion.
That is probably so. As hard as it is for me to believe, Ali is 67 years old. And, for most of those years, Ali has been in the public eye — winning the gold medal as an Olympic boxer when he was a teenager, beating aging boxing legend Archie Moore and then winning the heavyweight title from Sonny Liston in his early 20s, coming back from being stripped of his title for refusing to fight in Vietnam and recapturing the title at the age of 32 against the heavily favored George Foreman, losing the title at the age of 36 to 25–year–old Leon Spinks and then recapturing it from Spinks later that year. Especially memorable were his three epic fights with Joe Frazier.
Frazier handed Ali the first of only five defeats in his career, and he lost the last two fights of his career, when he was only a shell of his former self.
He may well possess, as one of the patrons in the restaurant told his children, "the most famous face in the world." When I was a child and Ali was beginning his professional career, such a designation was reserved for presidents and popes, occasionally entertainers like Elvis Presley or Marilyn Monroe.
It's been many years since Ali was the heavyweight champion of the world. He isn't seen on TV nearly as often as he once was.
But, for many, I'm sure he still has "the most famous face in the world."
I'm equally sure that there are times when he wishes he wasn't as recognizable. But, to hear Greene tell it, he still gives his time to those who approach him.
It is the price he pays for his fame. I guess it is the price he will continue to pay until the day he dies.