When Muhammad Ali visited Chennai


When news of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali’s death began to spread, social media in Chennai was also buzzing with photos of the legendary boxer. On a closer look of one such image, the renowned boxer was being greeted by former Chief Minister MG Ramachandran. Because in January 1980, the boxer visited the city for an exhibition match.According to a report in The Hindu, 36 years ago the boxer had visited Chennai for an exhibition bout organised by the Tamil Nadu State Amateur Boxing Association and Apeejay. The exhibition match saw Muhammad Ali taking on former heavy weight champion Jimmy Ellis.
The report even quoted Muhammed Ali, who was accompanied by his then wife, saying, “When I saw thousands turning up to the airport to meet me and greet me, it sent my spirits soaring and I am overwhelmed at the attention bestowed on me. In this short visit, a bond has sprung up between us, and I shall treasure this all my life.”The match is believed to have attracted a crowd from far and wide. Chennai was splashed with pictures of the boxer. The tickets were all priced at Rs. 100, 70, 50, 20, and 10. The historic Connemara Hotel at Mount Road played host to the boxer.
The Hindu reports that at a press conference a reporter questioned his weakness on the left hooks. Ali asked the reporter to join him on the podium and said, “Son, in my 49 fights I have knocked out 32 of my opponents and I haven’t suffered much punishment. You see my face? Do you see any scars or disfigurements? It looks nice and clean isn’t it? That’s it, that is why I am the greatest.”


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