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Thank you, Alexandra. That was a pleasure to read. How fortunate Mr. Phillips was to see Ali live.

It was in the end a tragedy for Ali when he learned he could hold still and take a punch. And another. And another.

Boxing is a brutal sport, and probably should be banned. But it never will be, because a boxing match is an incomparable piece of theater – not an imitation of life, but life itself, with all its glory and disgrace.

I don’t think boxing will be banned – whether it should be is arguable, although I am inclined against -- but I would suggest respectfully that surely it is the brutality of boxing and not its status as good theater that will, or should be, the overriding consideration in such a case (?) Ali’s great opponent Joe Frazier is not mentioned in this piece, but I cannot say that I really “enjoyed” watching the two of them try to kill each other during the Thrilla in Manila. (Nor was it amusing for Frazier when Ali’s sense of aesthetics, or "fun," led him to taunt Frazier as a “gorilla," (sometimes embellished as "ugly gorilla"). It was life, all right - neither man was ever the same - but it is fair to wonder if the spectacular theater was worth it.

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I think you make a lot of good points, dirac. I think boxing is one of those sports that people either love or avoid. I was a very young child when Muhammad was Cassius Clay, but I do remember the talk about it, and I remember his "butterfly/bee poem" -- I do believe Ali was a poet. I liked Tom Phillips' linking Muhammad and Merce, and his points about chance, too.

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“Float like a butterfly” is credited to Ali’s corner man, Drew “Bundini” Brown, who wrote for him (although Ali did produce other verse).

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, your hands can't hit what your eyes can't see

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