CASSIUS CLAY – AND FATHERING
My tribute to Cassius Clay –
– the given Christian name of Mohammed Ali.
I have no comment on his personal life. And I suppose if I changed my name to something that represents a new religious identity, I’d want to be known publicly by that name too.
Nevertheless, I first “met” him as Cassius Clay, the greatest boxer I had ever seen — second only to Rocky Marciano, of course, Undefeated American Heavyweight Champion. I can’t remember if Cassius Clay ever went undefeated for long, but it doesn’t matter – he was one of the greats too.
Every Friday night, my Dad and I watched the Friday Night Boxing Match, on a small TV; black and white pictures. This was when boxing was still a sport, long before it — well, changed into something I wouldn’t spend time on today. We had our favorites back then, of course, but we saw some of the greatest matches of that age.
But the wonder of it all was that it was my Dad and I watching those games.
A wonderful miracle, really.
I was a little girl, and he was . . . a Marine – an “ex”-Marine, he called himself, of the WWII variety: big, strong, masculine, and very, very sure of himself and the righteousness of his opinions. I spent most of my life alternately scared of and cautious around my Dad – all except for Friday nights.
Then he wasn’t scary. He wasn’t dangerous with incomprehensible bouts of “masculinity.” He was like a friend, a fellow fan of the Friday Night Fights.
And this did a lot for my growing sense of femininity.
“My big, male, Daddy” — liked my company, during these boxing matches. His respect for me gave me a sense of being valued. His friendship for those few hours a week healed a thousand wounds.
A Dad, a daughter, and some of the greatest boxing matches this world has ever known!
And my thanks to “Mohammed Ali.” May God have mercy on his poor soul.
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