Back in November of 2011, boxing icon Muhammad Ali gave the world a scare when it was revealed that the Greatest Of All Time (G.O.A.T.) was rushed to the hospital from his Arizona home after slipping in and out of consciousness.
Like a true champ, Ali didn’t stay down for the count. It was as if his long time trainer and corner man Bundini Brown was in his ear screaming at him to ‘Get up champ!’
So it stands to reason why everybody’s talking about the champ today as he turns 70 years young, it’s a testament to Ali’s character: fight ’til you can’t fight anymore.
Ali loves being on center stage, from winning gold in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, to becoming the youngest heavyweight champ in boxing history by defeating Sonny Liston in Miami, Florida in 1964.
Ali always got up when knocked down. When “Smokin” Joe Frazier clocked him with a left hook in Madison Square Garden, he jumped to his feet like nothing happened.
But what do people remember most about the champ, what separated him from every other boxer of his era?
It was his gift of gab that drew everyone to Ali, the ability to out-talk and get inside the head of his opponents.
His verbal prowess was unmatched; he’d beat you with his mouth before he even threw a punch.
But as Ali threw the verbal punches and short jabs, the man who was constantly in his ear was assistant trainer Bundini Brown.
Brown served as one of Ali’s speechwriters, as well as his trainer and corner-man. Brown wrote poems and coined Ali’s most famous and oft-quoted:
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.”
Everybody needs a Bundini Brown in their ear from time to time to bring out the best in them; the annoying bee buzzing in your ear so much it becomes an extension of your personality.
Bundini was a self-made man; he dropped out of the eighth grade and lied about his age to join the Navy as a mess boy at age 13.
He became a Merchant Marine and spent over 12 years traveling the world, later finding himself part of Sugar Ray Robinson’s entourage as a corner man.
After spending close to 30 years with Ali, Bundini died in September of 1987 at the age of 57.
The colorful clown in Ali’s corner was not only was the greatest hype man in history, but cemented himself as the mouthpiece for the greatest boxer of all time.
Today’s jab throwers are their own sh*t talkers, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. come to mind, but they’ll never be another Ali and Bundini.
What would it be like if Ali and Bundini had a Twitter account today?
Cheers to the champ on his 70th birthday and a special salute to Bundini Brown, the oftentimes forgotten piece of Ali’s legacy.