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When Muhammad Ali Wept

By Scoop Malinowski

Is it physically, emotionally, scientifically possible that “the greatest” fighter in boxing history could actually weep and cry?

According to soccer legend Pele’s biography, yes.

In the book “Pele: His Life And Times” by Harry Harris, page 156 mentions the first time Muhammad Ali met Pele, which was in the dressing room inside Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. The date was October 1, 1977 and it was Pele’s final professional game for the New York Cosmos vs. his former Brazilian team Santos F.C. (Pele actually played a half for each team). 75, 646 attended the momentous match that afternoon.

The book described the encounter of two of the greatest icons in sports history: “After his farewell match, they met each other. In the dressing room after the game Muhammad Ali, at age 35, just one year younger than Pele and still fighting, cried with emotion. He hugged Pele and said, ‘My friend. My friend. Now there are two of the greatest.'”

Before the game, Pele announced to the packed NFL stadium, “I believe that love is the most important thing we can take from life, because everything else passes. Say with me three times: Love! Love! Love!” Pele scored a goal in the game, the 1,283rd of his career which lasted 1,367 matches.

Pele’s final game was contested two days after Ali defended his World Heavyweight Championship against Earnie Shavers on September 29, 1977 in Madison Square Garden, winning¬† by 15 round unanimous decision. After beating Shavers, and meeting Pele, Ali had four more pro fights, splitting decisions vs. Leon Spinks in February and September 1978 and then the two losses to Larry Holmes (October 1980) and Trevor Berbick (December 1981).

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