June 4th, 2016

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Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)

The best thing he did was to refuse the draft. The second best thing was to be a Horrible Example.

Today we worry about the collateral damage football does to players’ brains, but when I was growing up, intellectuals were rhapsodizing about what A.J. Liebling called the “sweet science”: the only alleged sport where one wins by inflicting brain damage. (Even hockey has aims other than blunt trauma.) Muhammad Ali gave and got concussions, and we could all see what it had done to him, and boxing has never been the same.