Happy Birthday to The Greatest

So, it looks like January 17th marks another important date: Muhammad Ali's birthday.

Muhammad Ali, of course, needs no introduction. What a legend. Ali was such a towering figure that even in my childhood (let's say late 1980s and early '90s), his reputation was so great, so awesome, that kids born long after his last fight still understood how important he was. I can thank my father for telling me all about Muhammad Ali. I know my dad regarded him as not only the greatest fighter to ever step into the ring, but as one of the most important individuals to ever live, period. 

Ali really is one of the last remaining living champions of the people. Intelligent, articulate, charismatic, honest; he used his influence to say things that needed to be said at the time. Can you imagine celebrities today putting their necks on the line to speak out against, well, anything? I can't. Going up against forces like that requires courage and integrity. 

Happy Birthday, Champ.

Muhammad Ali in 1965 after knocking out Sonny Liston. Photograph by Neil Leifer.