Today, Muhammad Ali, "The Greatest" himself, turned 70 years old. Without going into a lengthy and I'm certain familiar history of his professional accomplishments, and of his greatness in the ring, I do want to say one thing: When you talk about Muhammad Ali, you are talking about more than a great fighter, more than a great boxer, more than a great athlete. I talk about boxers all the time. But Muhammad Ali -- it's just different.
We're talking about one of the most well-known men on the planet earth. Across the world, people know Muhammad Ali. The things he did in boxing are just about unmatched by any fighter in history. He was an enormous attraction, and to go along with that, a fabulous fighter. To compare modern "superstar" boxers to Muhammad Ali is laughable. None will have the cultural impact that Ali had on the sport and, seriously, on the world. None are even in the same universe as Ali in that regard.
He has been loved and he has been hated. The man named the BBC Sports Personality of the Century and the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Century was held in almost universal high regard by the time those honors were bestowed upon him in 1999, but Ali was one of the most controversial athletes in history. He wasn't always the good guy.
Honestly, I doubt you or I will ever see the like of him again, in any sport.
Happy birthday, champ.