Growing Up With The Greatest
Published by Patrick Triplett at Smashwords
Copyright 2012 Patrick Triplett
Ironically, my first memory of the man who would become my favorite athlete of all time was that I wanted him to lose. As I listened to the radio broadcast of the 1964 heavyweight championship fight along with my dad, his hope, and therefore mine was that champion and baddest man on the planet Sonny Liston would demolish the brash, mouthy newcomer named Cassius Clay and shut him up for good.
I was 16 and beginning to feel the passion that my dad had for sports. There were three pennants that hung in my bedroom, seemingly from birth - the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears, and the Iowa Hawkeyes. We listened to their games religiously on the radio and watched them on television whenever they were on. I grew to feel my dad's exhilaration when they won and his pain when they lost.
He was also a boxing fan, in my mind an expert. He told me about the legends, from Jack Dempsey to Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano and Sugar Ray Robinson. I had never seen a boxing match before, but was enthralled by his stories and inspired by his fervor for the sport. He was able to paint pictures in my mind of the great fights in history, Louis vs. Schmelling, Marciano vs. Walcott, and Robinson vs. LaMotta. He talked about them in detail, virtually round by round, and left me spellbound.
On the night of February 25th, we listened as ring commentator Don Dunphy called the Liston vs. Clay fight. I knew a little about both fighters, having learned that Liston knocked out former champion Floyd Patterson twice in the first round and was considered to be invincible, while the cocky Clay guaranteed victory even though most experts predicted Liston would do to him what he had done to Patterson.