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Muhammad Ali’s legendary career ended on December 11 almost 40 years ago in a heartbreaking and outrageous fashion

DECEMBER 11 is a day that historians have had to endure.

It was on that day in 1936 when King Edward VIII sadly informed a stunned nation that he would give up his crown to marry Wallis Simpson.

Muhammad Ali hangs up his gloves after his fight with Trevor Berbick in 1981

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Muhammad Ali hangs up his gloves after his fight with Trevor Berbick in 1981Credit: Disney General Entertainment Con
The king of heavyweight abdicates after 21 years of monopoly

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The king of heavyweight abdicates after 21 years of monopolyCredit: Getty – Contributor

And a week from Saturday, it will be the 40th anniversary of the King of Boxing’s announcement of his abdication after 21 magical, grand, mesmerizing and controversial years in and out of the ring.

It was December 11, 1981, when Muhammad Ali, arguably the greatest world heavyweight champion of them all, took off his gloves for the last time.

It was a relief for those of us who had been a part of Ali’s flying circus and were desperate to watch him decline slowly but surely to insignificance.

Heartbreakingly, instead of retiring with the goodbyes he deserved, the man who was voted the greatest sports figure of the 20th century ended his glittering 61-match career in the United States. Caribbean – and in the strangest of circumstances.

He lost to Trevor Berbick by one point ten unanimous decisions in what was billed as a Bahama Drama. More appropriately, the teasing event should have been called Nonsense in Nassau.

It’s held at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Center, which sounds grand – it’s actually a baseball field.

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The fight took place at the tiny Queen Elizabeth Sports Center in the Bahamas

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The fight took place at the tiny Queen Elizabeth Sports Center in the BahamasCredits: Rex Features

The proceedings were delayed by two hours because no one could find the key to open the gate to the arena.

That was the belief of the beggars but once inside it was discovered there wasn’t even a bell or gauntlet for the main event, it went beyond imitation.

Someone was sent to the next field to retrieve a bell from the neck of one of the grazing cows.

And Ali’s coach, Angelo Dundee, asked his secretary to come to his Miami office to arrange for a new pair of gloves to be replaced.

After a crushing defeat to Larry Holmes a year earlier, the name Muhammad Ali could no longer sell.

The three major American television networks, CBS, ABC and NBC, boycotted his clash with Berbick – and not a single closed-net operator cared in the slightest.

American television stations boycotted the December 1981 clash

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American television stations boycotted the December 1981 clashCredit: Getty
Ali is 39 years old, facing a man 12 years younger than her

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Ali is 39 years old, facing a man 12 years younger than herCredit: Getty – Contributor

The fact that James Cornelius, a Los Angeles car dealer, a felony convict, was arrested nine times for fraud and petty theft, who is also being investigated by the FBI, is probably related. regard something.

I actually felt extremely depressed watching Ali, the hero of Rumble in the Jungle and Thrilla in Manila, plus many other breathtaking battles, reduced to insignificant levels.

His speed and daring skills have long since been lost – and what remains is a chubby middle-aged man just a month after his 40th birthday.

Leaving forever the great athlete prompted Jim Murray, the LA Times Pulitzer Prize-winning sports journalist, to write: “I want to borrow Ali’s body for a day – there are six men I want to beat and six women I want to have sex with. “

Ali was then subdued and philosophical as we all crammed into his dressing room. He simply said, “Father time has caught up with me – I’m over. I have to face the truth.

“We all grow old and this is the end. I’ve been doing this since I was 12 years old.

Ali should have retired after his third fight with Joe Frazier

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Ali should have retired after his third fight with Joe FrazierCredit: Getty

“It was a joy and a relief to know that it was over.”

Of course, he should retire immediately after his brutal third battle with Joe Frazier in Manila.

But he went on for six more years and had ten more fights against the advice of his doctor Ferdie Pacheco.

That might even have happened if he had listened to Pacheco, Ali may still be alive to this day.

Ed Schuyler – one of America’s leading boxing writers – spoke of billions of dollars when he said as we let Ali about his memory of that evening: “Muhammad, thank you. You gave us a freak trip. ”

And as I flew home from Nassau, with the festive season approaching, it occurred to me that I had just seen a Christmas Ghost in the past.

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https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/16923284/muhammad-ali-trevor-berbick-last-fight/ Muhammad Ali’s legendary career ended on December 11 almost 40 years ago in a heartbreaking and outrageous fashion

Ashley

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