Over the past two weeks since the death of the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, there’s a lot we heard about his athletic achievements. But a close friend of the boxer, the photographer Howard Bingham told reporters that Mohammed was, moreover, a man with a big heart.
Howard told that to many who were familiar with the athlete he is, without exaggeration, was a superhero. For example, once he saved from suicide the Vietnam vet, bought him a shelter, found a job and for many years kept abreast of his life.
“Mohammed has a secret life that nobody knew,” said Howard, who, besides, is the author of the biographical book about the life of an athlete “Muhammad Ali: a Thirty year journey.” A great philanthropist did not advertise their good deeds, but carried them everywhere and always. For example, he signed a check for one hundred thousand dollars to save from the closure of the community centre for senior citizens, secretly gave the little girl in a wheelchair a diamond ring worth two thousand dollars, and stosowanych bills that he just gave on the street in need – just do not count.
Friendship is a photographer and boxer began in 1962 in Los Angeles. Then Bingham first saw Mohammed in the sporting arena. Then, however, Ali was known as Cassius Clay.
“I offered to show him the city. He agreed and since then we were best friends,” the photographer said. Ali loved to read poetry and to anticipate the spin that will win. During his career he has made not only friends, but also a lot of haters, and this number increased after the athlete refused to support the war in Vietnam and converted to Islam.
“Many people remember Ali as a brave, arrogant and a bit egoistic person. N I also know the humble, good-natured, which was incredibly generous” — said Howard.
“In 1981, Ali was driving past the high-rise, the roof of which was world-weary Vietnamese, who wanted to commit suicide. The crowd standing below and watching a desperate man, egging him to take a step forward. Then I thought: maybe Ali will persuade him not to do it. Police blockaded the building, but when they saw who came, it missed us. We approached the suicide bomber and Mohammed managed to persuade him not to end his life. The vet was shocked that Ali himself came to save him. And when Mohammed said to him: “it’s okay, we love you. Everything will be fine” he moved away from the edge. Over the next few days Ali spent over 2000 dollars to give poor clothing, housing, work. Poor guy didn’t know how to thank Mohammed and cried all the time. He could not believe that Ali is doing this.
“I spent several years in solitude. No one cares for me, nobody cared if I lived or died. Then I decided to die. Anyone else I didn’t need, only you. You gave me hope and strength to believe in themselves” he said. Ali called him every month for several years to see how that’s going. There is no doubt that Mohammed gave him a new life and a new start,” said Bingham.
Howard said that despite the fact that Mohammed was one of the most prominent people in the Boxing world, in life, he was quite modest and simple.
“One day during a flight I noticed the unpleasant smell. I asked Ali about it and he suggested that the strong aroma was making him wear. He stood up, went to the bathroom, washed them and hung out to dry by the window” — said Howard.
Despite Parkinson’s disease, affect coordination, almost to the last day of Ali remained in a clear mind and “contributed to peace and racial harmony.”