Ep. 10: Meeting Muhammad Ali: Take Three

Several years went by before Jonathan Eig finally met Muhammad Ali. Listen to his retelling of what it was like to meet the man he spent three years studying, and a lifetime admiring.

Eig says he always knew a sit-down with the increasingly private champ was unlikely, but when a chance to meet the man arose, Eig says he was fixated on one thought: “If I had one question to ask, what would I ask Muhammad Ali?”

When Ali’s wife Lonnie confirmed that Ali would be at his eponymous museum and cultural center in Louisville, Kentucky in October, Eig says he knew he had to be there, just to get a glimpse of him, if nothing else.

 (L to R) Larry Holmes, Muhammad Ali, and George Foreman at October 2015 event.

(L to R) Larry Holmes, Muhammad Ali, and George Foreman at October 2015 event.

The day before the event, he spent the day retracing Ali’s steps with his best friend from high school, Vic Bender. They revisited the route Ali would jog to school, the high school itself, the pair’s favorite burger joint and Ali’s after school jogging route.

Later on his trip, Eig decided to try a run down Ali’s old route for himself. It was there that he decided what his one question for the champ would be.

 Jonathan Eig with Larry Holmes, Ali's opponent in the 1980 world heavyweight championship.

Jonathan Eig with Larry Holmes, Ali's opponent in the 1980 world heavyweight championship.

When he finally met the man, he was ready. But things didn’t go exactly as planned.

Learn more about what Muhammad Ali's life growing up in Louisville was like in Eig's book: "ALI: A Life." Preorder your copy via the link below.

PodcastAshley Logan