Muhammad Ali

‘He stood up for African-American men like no other’

Boxers in Los Angeles pay tribute to The Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali

While walking home this week, I saw a guy strolling up La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles wearing a T-shirt: an image of Muhammad Ali was on the front and the words, “The Greatest of All Time” on the back. I followed him into a nearby building — an old, tiny boxing gym. A shrine to greatest boxers in history adorned the walls. The most prominent boxer on display? Ali, of course. The guy in the Ali T-shirt, Ron Essett, got emotional as he told me how big a fan he was of The Champ. Essett was a professional fighter himself, years after an amateur career highlighted as an alternate on the 1984 Olympics boxing team. I rushed home to grab my camera, hoping to capture the impact Ali had on boxing fans. The young kids training in the gym didn’t have much knowledge about The Greatest of All Time — but the old heads had a lot to say.