A boxing great’s tribute to ‘The Greatest’

Azumah Nelson talks about Muhammad Ali who died on Friday, June 3, 2016 at the age of 74.


Following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali died late on Friday at hospital in Phoenix in the United States of America after respiratory illness complications.

The three-time heavyweight champion was simply known as ‘The Greatest’. Indeed he was the greatest and by the accounts of his tributes, Ali was not only great but also loved.

Sixteen years after Muhammad Ali was born in 1942, a man considered as the greatest African boxer of all time, Azuma Nelson was born in Ghana in the year 1958.

Azumah Nelson lost six bouts in his professional career, a loss more than the five losses for the departed Muhammad Ali.

It comes as no surprise that Azumah Nelson grew up looking to be like Muhammad Ali. Greatness imitates greatness and Azumah Nelson recalls how he found inspiration in the good things Ali had portrayed to the world.

“When we were young, we all would hear Muhammad Ali and as boxers we said we wanted to be like him,” Azumah Nelson told

“Everybody wants to be like Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali was good and everybody likes good things. I knew that if you want to be like Muhammad Ali, you’d have to train hard. You have to be determined to achieve what Mohammed Ali had achieved.”

On his death, Azumah said:

“When I received the news that Mohammed Ali had passed away I was sad but at the same time I was happy because he was not feeling well and could not do anything by himself. I thank God that he passed away so he can go rest in peace.”

The fantasies of Azumah Nelson actually turned into a reality as his illustrious career gave him an opportunity to finally meet ‘The Greatest’.

A conversation filled with banter and a sense of achieved dreams considering the smile on Azumah’s face as he recalled that moment with Muhammad Ali to proved a fantasy come true.

“I remember the first time I met him and he said, ‘Hey Champion! How are you?’ and I said I’m fine,” Azumah recalled to

“And then he asked how fast I am. I said I am very fast. He said OK. And then he gave me his hands and said jab and let me see how fast you are. I jabbed and he said ow you’re not fast. He said jab again. I jabbed and he said no you’re not fast.”

The tributes pouring in for Muhammad Ali utterly certify a man who made an impact during his 74 years stay on earth. Ali’s approach and selflessness to reach to the aid of others was well noted, especially in the 1960s when joined a cause during the time of racial segregation in the US.

Azumah Nelson, as many others have good memories of ‘The Greatest’ Muhammad Ali. On Ali as a person, he said:

“Mohammed Ali is a wonderful person. When you talk about nice people, Muhammad Ali is one of the nicest people in this world. If we have such people in this world, this world will be peaceful.”

From Azumah’s point of view, what made Ali a great boxer was how he mesmerized with the acting, and delivered on his promises of making his fans happy, to the detriment of some knocks on opposition faces.

Speaking on Muhammad Ali as a great boxer, Azumah said:

“Mohammed Ali is a great boxer. He knows the acting. He can talk and what makes him different is he talks and he does it. He’ll tell you he’ll beat and then he’ll beat you. He tells you I’m gonna knock you out in this round and then he’ll knock you out. That is why you can see Mohammed Ali is the greatest.

Azumah Nelson who goes on to reveal he is ‘more action than talking’ unlike the legendary Ali opined on the lessons that could be taken from the life of the dearly departed Ali.

“If you want to be like Mohammed Ali, Ali was a God-fearing. He loved people and people loved him. He didn’t care who he was, like I am a World Champion.

“He came low to the lowest people. That is how a human being is supposed to live. You can’t take anything from Mohammed Ali. He was the best person.”

The former world featherweight champion had a message for the family of Muhammad Ali. Just as Azumah loved ‘The Great’, the love continues for Ali’s family.

“I would like to tell his family that God gives and God takes away. I love them all. I loved their father and I love them too. They should thank God for what happened and God will give them whatever they want.”

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time – Mark Twain.

Muhammad Ali lived a fulfilled life. Rest in Peace ‘The Greatest’.


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