Bone Daddy was at the Superdome in New Orleans, LA on September 15, 1978 for the rematch between Muhammad Ali vs Leon Spinks…as I have heard him telling the stories of that trip on many occasions….cuz I think it was one of the all time best trips that he ever took…..for Bone Daddy saw many live sporting events throughout his life. Can you imagine bellying up to the raw oyster bar at Felix’s down in the French Quarter of New Orleans…..talking boxing, Muhammad Ali, the rematch and sports in general with Sportsphiles from all over the US…..while chowing down on several dozen raw oysters with sufficient numbers of bloody mary chasers to wash those sweet lil “pearl makers” down…..does it get any better than that!?!
There was Samuel, the oyster shucker with a gift of gab like nobody’s business….who absolutely loved sports….especially boxing…..and he held Muhammad Ali in a highly elevated reverent way….for Samuel was to a Sportsphile like a beautiful female bartender was to a guy who was out on the town….and he probably made tips equal to all those hot bartenders with pretty smiles and tight pants….for Samuel could shuck like a master and never skip a beat while entertaining his clients.
By this time in Ali’s career….Bone Daddy had elevated Ali into his top 5 list of all time favorite athletes….along with Mickey Mantle, Bill Russell, Rocky Marciano, Wilt Chamberlain & Willie Mays ….for to say that Ali was moving up the list as each year of his career passed would be an understatement….cuz the fact is that Bone Daddy wasn’t a big fan of Ali early in his career….I mean, he really liked the talent that Ali had….having taken down The Bear at age 22 years and 39 days old….as that was awesome to BD….plus from the Liston fight to his suspension in 1967….he beat every heavyweight around at the time…..Floyd Patterson, George Chuvalo, Henry Cooper, Zora Foley, Cleveland Williams, Ernie Terrell and Karl Mildenberger (whom Ali hit with 17 punches in less than 8 seconds….beating them all badly…..and then the authorities of the world took Ali’s title away from him…..while incarcerating him for refusing to go into the military.
Those authorities took what this lil ole Sportsphile considers to be the best three years of Muhammad Ali’s career away from boxing fans all over the world….for regardless of how great his career was after getting out of jail….and living up to his self-billed The Greatest moniker….if we sports fans had gotten to see Ali fight from age 25 years 64 days to 28 years 282 days….he would have without question….laid to rest any debate about who was the greatest boxer of all time. So, upon returning from a three year suspension when he wasn’t allowed to get into the ring….he still managed to win and lose the world heavyweight title two more times before he would retire…..and along the way, he defeated every heavyweight boxer there was around including Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Jimmie Ellis, George Chuvalo, Oscar Bonevena, Leon Spinks, Earnie Shavers, Jimmie Young and Ken Norton….just to name a few.
During the years after the suspension of his undisputed world heavyweight title…..when he won and lost the title on two separate occasions that Ali moved on Bone Daddy’s top two favorite athletes of all time list….by running neck and neck with Mickey Mantle….and how he overtook The Mick is a whole another story.
Bone Daddy says that his favorite moment of this trip to New Orleans to see The Greatest win back the world heavyweight title for the 3rd time in his career…..was attending the impromptu news conference that Ali held on Bourbon Street…..at which time Bone Daddy got to take “up close and personal” pictures of Ali….and actually shake The Greatest’s hand….while missing an opportunity for Ali’s autograph when his entourage moved him out of reach.
By this point of Ali’s career….he was 36 years 241 days old….as boxing’s best went 15 rounds with a young 25 yr. old young bull named Leon Spinks….and as Bone Daddy puts it….”Ali’s foot speed was no longer there, even though he entered the ring at the same weight he was when he fought Sonny Liston some 14 years before, but his punching speed and ring savvy was undeniable, which was impressive to watch as Muhammad Ali was still a master of the ring.