You are Muhammed Ali! Wanna meet my sister?
January 7, 2013 11:48 AM   Subscribe

One fine day in 1974, at a school in Greenwich Village, some school children talking about their hero Muhammed Ali get the shock of their lives, courtesy of Candid Camera.
posted by MartinWisse (41 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
No doubt about it, Ali was the greatest.
posted by Mojojojo at 11:53 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

Thank you for finding and posting this.
Dang, I think I have something in my eye.
posted by dougzilla at 11:58 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by carter at 12:02 PM on January 7, 2013


posted by mule98J at 12:05 PM on January 7, 2013

Will say this and mean this.. kids of the 1970s seemed to be a lot "cooler" then many succeeding generations. I really love the understated responses, they are obviously "hey wow" but not OMFG!!! STFU!!! All the reactions are fantastic, loved the steepled fingers kid at the end
posted by edgeways at 12:07 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

The kid at the end is my hero. Is he trying to give advice to the Champ? He's so calm about it, even when Ali picks him up and carries him out.
posted by Elly Vortex at 12:11 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

What would be the equivalent today, do you think? In my day it was all Jordan all the time.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:13 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Greatest of ALL TIME!
posted by Windopaene at 12:15 PM on January 7, 2013

And I don't think there will ever be an equivalent.
posted by Windopaene at 12:16 PM on January 7, 2013

Good God, I wish I was as self-possessed as the last kid.
posted by biffa at 12:20 PM on January 7, 2013

"I do beat 'em."

It can't be said enough, even in an FPP with less than 10 comments, he really is the greatest.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:21 PM on January 7, 2013

The kid at 2:45 is not an Ali fan. He's a Howard Cosell fan.
posted by NedKoppel at 12:24 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

The Greatest of all time. I love how he stands up for what he believes in whether that is his own boxing ability or tossing his Olympic gold medal in the river, or going to jail rather than to Vietnam.

Ain't go no quarrel with no Vietnamese!
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:26 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

The kid at the end is my hero. Is he trying to give advice to the Champ? He's so calm about it, even when Ali picks him up and carries him out.

I am pretty sure that was William F. Buckley.
posted by srboisvert at 12:26 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

By the way, if you haven't seen it, When We Were Kings is a great documentary.
posted by carter at 12:27 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

The kid at 2:45 is not an Ali fan. He's a Howard Cosell fan.

You should really take a moment to enjoy how tall that kid ends up being when Ali picks him up.
posted by phaedon at 12:29 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is fantastic. Especially the last kid, telling Muhammad Ali it's not nice to brag, no less.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:30 PM on January 7, 2013

No doubt about it, Ali IS the greatest!
posted by ericb at 12:38 PM on January 7, 2013

I like the kid who is trying to say Oh snap, except that the phrase doesn't exist yet.

He really was the greatest, and his media life outside the boxing ring was a nutty as anything this side of Mr. T. For example, there is his album, titled, suitably, I am the Greatest. It's a sort of country song, which is not really surprising. June Cross recently told a story on The Moth about meeting Muhammad Ali at a Johnny Cash concert, and she said to him "Hey champ, how come you and I are the only black people in here getting ready to listen to Johnny Cash," and he answered "Girl, I'm from Louisville, Kentucky; Where I come from, there's a whole lot of people listen to country music."

He also fought Superman. And tooth decay. He once sang "Stand By Me" -- rather gorgeously, I think; as one commenter says "He can box better than all of those before him, he can sing better´╗┐ than Beyonce and can dance better than Elvis & Michael Jackson, he must be 'the greatest' ?"

Of course, he appeared on Diffren't Strokes (Two parts: 1, 2). He popped up unexpectedly in Touched by an Angel. (Comment: "And the award for most peculiar and undignified television drama appearance goes to...") And, of course, he had his own cartoon.

Did he ever make a commercial in which he discusses how hard it is to fight roaches? You bet.

How about video games? Well, where to start? There's Foes of Ali. There's Muhammad Ali Heavyweight Boxing. And you can fight as Ali in Knockout Kings.

There's also Ali Monopoly. And his K.O. game! (a prototype, alas.)

It ain't bragging if it's true.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:54 PM on January 7, 2013 [17 favorites]

I couldn't really tell what the kid was trying to tell him. You can't win without self confidence, even if the odds are in your favor? Something. Also, where can I get that "Quebec" shirt.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:56 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I once saw an interview with ALI where he was being asked about his shakes when he was first diagnosed with Parkinson's Syndrome. The reporter asked why he was slurring his words. Ali responded with, "I have been hit upside my head thousands of times. If I hit you upside your head ONCE you too would be slurring your words."

I hope they find those kids for the 50th anniversary show.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:17 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think he was trying to articulate that Ali's taunt to the guy ("you'll be standing in the ring wondering what went wrong that i'm doing this") was wrong because even if the guy was likely to lose he shouldn't let that stop him from trying. Or something like that.
posted by neuromodulator at 1:20 PM on January 7, 2013

My daughter goes to PS 41!
posted by AJaffe at 1:42 PM on January 7, 2013

He also fought Superman. And tooth decay.

He also knocked the crack in the Liberty Bell! ALIIIIIIIIIIIII!
posted by Spatch at 1:44 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wonder what the first kid ended up doing with his life. Such confidence, and "I beat Muhammad Ali at armwrestling" is pretty much the greatest party story ever.
posted by desjardins at 1:45 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Haha, Spatch; I came in here to post that same thing!
posted by Pecinpah at 1:51 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Bunny Ultramod, your comment really makes this post. Never new Ali could sing.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 2:06 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Muhammad Ali came to my elementary school when I was in Kindergarten or First Grade, I can't remember which. The reason for this impromptu visit was because he happened to be the godfather of a friend of mine and fellow classmate. He arrived wearing a black blazer, white shirt and black pants, in the middle of recess. The teachers were excited and people acted excited, but at my age I really didn't know who he was or why I should be that excited. None the less, I ran with everyone else to the quickly growing cluster of kids and teachers. Then before our eyes, he was either asked to or decided to perform his levitating trick. He extended his arms out and...I saw nothing to suggest that his feet left the ground. It was a great disappointment which has colored my perspective of the boxer for most of my life.

Other than photographs and a signed pair of boxing gloves in my friend's house, I never saw a trace of him again, after he arrived one day in the middle of recess.
posted by Atreides at 2:56 PM on January 7, 2013

My daughter goes to PS 41!

I went to PS 41 - in '76.
(Wait, am I actually recognising some faces in one of those class pictures...?)
posted by progosk at 3:00 PM on January 7, 2013

When I was four or five years old in the early to mid-70s, I was that one kid's sister (not literally). I even did an imitation of Muhammad Ali, too.

I loved Muhammad Ali with an unexpected deepness. Unexpected, because I was a little white girl growing up in the country, who didn't even get Sesame Street on TV, whose family didn't really follow sports or the civil rights movement.

This makes me want to cry with gladness. Muhammad Ali spoke a language that us kids could understand -- he spoke with radical confidence and dignity. He shared it with us, like he really loved us.

That last kid -- how Muhammad Ali skooches up on the kid and kind of acts menacing -- only no kid is menaced by it, and then picks the kid up and walks away with him?

That clip tells you every thing my little four-year-old self ever needed to know about Muhammad Ali.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. I am The Best. I am Muhammad Ali.
posted by vitabellosi at 4:01 PM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]

For about the last 10 years I have had an annual reminder on my calender to watch the Ali-Foreman fight on video. Some years I have time to watch the whole thing, other years I only watch the 7th and 8th round. It's the famous "rope-a-dope" fight.

You've probably heard of the term "rope-a-dope" and you probably have a good idea of what it means. (Although the term has been totally diluted over the years).

But have you ever watched it unfold? It's perfectly amazing.

You probably don't have time to watch an hour-long fight today, but do yourself a favor and take 5 minutes and watch it from about here: the middle of the 7th round. The moment when Foreman goes down is poetic in a brutal way. I sometimes slow down that moment on video and advance it frame by frame. There is something majestic in the way Ali is alive in that moment, totally in control.

Truly the greatest.
posted by jeremias at 5:13 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

When I was in law school about 20 years ago, Ali lived in the area and was invited to give a guest lecture as part of a course on civil rights law (which, inexplicably, I missed). The class ran long, of course, and the professor who was scheduled to use the classroom next period was getting antsy. Finally, the second prof said that he had to get his criminal law class started, so Ali started shuffling out of the classroom. Halfway up the stairs, he turned around, pointed at the criminal law professor -- who was perhaps the least physically imposing person you will ever meet -- and said, "He beat me up. He threw me out."

Also, this commerical never fails to get me.

Greatest of all time. Period.
posted by hawkeye at 5:27 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Good lord. DAVID FROST is one of the commentators on that Ali-Foreman fight
posted by Madamina at 5:34 PM on January 7, 2013

He's an awesome grandfather and his family respects him.
posted by Peach at 6:38 PM on January 7, 2013

My face is stuck in a smile after watching that.
posted by 4ster at 7:40 PM on January 7, 2013

posted by ooga_booga at 10:11 PM on January 7, 2013

How sad that that beautiful specimen of a man is now a victim of Parkinson's. He has appeared at fund raisers for the disease, but of course, he cannot speak any more.
posted by Cranberry at 12:06 AM on January 8, 2013

What a nice example of how Candid Camera occasionally could be heartwarming. Great expressions on the kids's faces.

I was just as astounded as those children last year when I found a piece in the New York Times about how Ali, when he was 21, met a 6-year-old neighborhood girl who subsequently decided she would marry him... and she did.
posted by LeLiLo at 3:51 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Many years ago, he was giving an interview with someone I cannot remember now. The interviewer was commenting on the Parkinson's, which was very evident, even then, and asked Ali if he still throw a punch. Ali instantaneously answered with a feint towards the guy, who almost fell out of his chair. Here was a guy shaking and having trouble talking clearly, and that completely-controlled punch was the fastest I had ever seen a human move. I cannot imagine being in the ring with that man in his prime.
posted by thebrokedown at 4:59 AM on January 9, 2013

Looks like candid camera DMAed it :(
posted by edgeways at 7:15 PM on January 18, 2013

Came back to find this link again and found it down. This seems to work (for now). Also, this is a short bit with him and the host. Wow.
posted by lkc at 2:21 AM on January 19, 2013

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