Bush Honors Muhammad Ali of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
10.11.05 - President Bush: Only a few athletes are ever known as the greatest in their sport, or in their time. But when you say, "The Greatest of All Time" is in the room, everyone knows who you mean. It's quite a claim to make -- but as Muhammad Ali once said, "It's not bragging if you can back it up." (Laughter.) And this man backed it up.
From the day he won the Gold Medal at the 1960 Olympic Games, we all knew there was something special about this young fighter from Louisville, Kentucky. And his record of 56 and 5, including 37 knockouts and 19 successful title defenses, hardly begins to get the story. Far into the future, fans and students of boxing will study the films, and some will even try to copy his style. But certain things defy imitation: the Ali shuffle, the lightning jabs, the total command of the ring and, above all, the sheer guts and determination he brought to every fight.
This is a man who once fought more than 10 rounds with a fractured jaw. And he fought to complete exhaustion -- and victory -- in that legendary clash of greats in Manila.. The real mystery, I guess, is how he stayed so pretty. (Laughter.) It probably had to do with his beautiful soul. He was a fierce fighter and he's a man of peace, just like Odessa and Cassius Clay, Sr. believed their son could be.
Across the world, billions of people know Muhammad Ali as a brave, compassionate and charming man, and the American people are proud to call Muhammad Ali one of our own. (Applause.)
Our country and our world have been improved by the lives of the men and women we honor today. And now I ask the Military Aide to read the citations.
Article posted on 11.11.2005
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