Muhammad Ali my childhood hero


Muhammad Ali my childhood hero
by Esfand Aashena

About two years ago I wrote an article in about Muhammad Ali.  He is truly a humanitarian and this time he is asking the Islamic Republic to release the American hikers in Iran.  Given the news I thought to write about him again and reprint my article. 

I support him in this endeavor and wish him the best of luck even though he is asking Khamanei who is a villain and a dictator.  Human life is precious and no one should be hesitant to ask a dictator to spare someone's life.  For example, in WWII John Rabe was a German citizen who saved more than 200,000 Chinese from certain massacre at the hands of the Japanese by remaining loyal to Nazi Germany and Hitler.  He ended up paying for his good deeds both before and after the war but saving 200,000 lives is a major accomplishment.  There is a movie about John Rabe as well.

In 1990 Muhammad Ali went to Iraq, shook hands with Saddam and was able to release the American hostages.  At the time there were talks that negotiating on behalf of US Government is a federal crime and Muhammad Ali as a US citizen has broken the law.  But who is going to prosecute Muhammad Ali?  Anyone?!


THE Greatest!

I remember it was the mid 70s.  I was in 8th or 9th grade when they changed the educational programs, so I was in 1st or 2nd rahnamy-ee. Lunch boxes were in fashion and kids had different kinds.  There were 1 level, 2 levels and up to 4 and sometimes 5 levels lunch boxes or as we called them, ghablame-yee.

On the multiple level lunch boxes, 1st level would be for rice, 2nd level for khoresht (stew), 3rd level for salad and 4th level for deserts, and 5th level would be for fruits and other stuff.  If you had fewer levels you’d bunch things up.  Mine was 2 level, 1st level for the food, 2nd level for deserts and snacks and stuff.

When the lunch bell rang we would run to the yard and everyone get their lunch boxes and sit next to your friends and chow down and talk about school, teachers and sports and stuff.

Live TV was a new thing and they were showing live sporting events, such as World Cup and boxing.  Muhammad Ali was a popular sports figure in Iran and people loved him.  He was followed with great interest and when they started showing his live matches; interest in him just went to another level.

The live boxing broadcasts were in the middle of the night, like 2 or 3 or 4 in the morning but it didn’t matter.  We would gladly wake up and follow his every move and have a great time.  At times we wouldn’t go back to bed for the remainder of the night and just discuss the match and be happy when he won and sad when he lost.

In the morning when we got to school the first thing we’d talk about was Ali and his fight the night before.  We could not stop talking about him and his moves and his foot dance around the ring.

During lunch we’d talk about the match exclusively and some of us would get up and start shadow punching and the rest of us would hurry up to finish up the lunches and start boxing with each other.  Halfway through the lunch break, all the students would finish their lunches and you’d see everyone in the yard either shadow boxing alone or with each other! Kids would not play the usual soccer or other games and just box in the yard.

We loved him.  We really, really loved him.  The mornings after he lost there were no shadow boxing in the yard and we were in discussion on how the referee did not see the low blow or that he had a cold or something.  We’d then talk about his early years when we were younger and had some faint memory of him trash talking.  When we couldn’t remember his old days, we’d remember the TV reports prior to his new games about his past and his trash talking or clowning around and toying with his opponent in the ring.  So in the mornings after his losses we’d be trash talking instead of shadow boxing.

In the late 70s I moved to America for school and it coincided with his retirement but the memories of those days are always with me.  Muhammad Ali is the one man who is respected all around the world.  No one is more universally known or respected than Muhammad Ali.  He is in fact THE Greatest!

I hope to get a chance to visit The Muhammad Ali Center one day and share my story in his guest book.


more from Esfand Aashena
Esfand Aashena

سال نو و نوروز بر همگی‌ مبارک!

Esfand Aashena

Faramarz jaan yes there were days that the fights were during the day when we'd skip schools!  Once Ali became super popular in Iran there were also specials about him and his fights and clowning around in 60s!

They even dubbed the shows in Farsi!  Fun times! 

Everything is sacred

Anahid Hojjati

Faramarz, I wonder if this is the match that I remember watching

by Anahid Hojjati on

I have a memory of watching Ali and Frazier 's match on TV in Abadan when I was very young.  Forty years ago fits the time line perfectly. From the excitement level that I remember, the match must have been televised live in Abadan too.


But Faramarz...

by Doctor mohandes on

I was under the impression that the great fight of the century was the argument that you and SP got into,... Remember that one?:)

Red Wine


by Red Wine on

اسفند جان عزیز،دوست خوب و مهربان...

نوروزت فرخنده باد... آرزوی سلامتی و شادی برایت می‌کنیم.

ارادتمند همیشگی‌ تو...

شراب قرمز.



Fight of the Century!

by Faramarz on

Thanks for writing the piece and I hope that Ali can secure the release of the 2 prisoners.

March 8th was the 40th anniversary of the “Fight of the Century” between Ali and the “Smoking” Joe Frazier.

Like you, that was a big day for me too. The fight was televised live from Madison Square Garden in early morning hours. In our school, it was understood that everybody, including the teachers were going to stay home, watch the fight and then come to school.  When Ali got knocked down in the 15th round, we were all shocked. I don’t think that Ali was quite ready for that fight. Frazier was at his peak and Ali just came out of his suspension.

But then there were “Rumble in the Jungle” against Foreman and the “Thrilla in Manila” against Frazier! Great Fights!

Esfand Aashena

Azadeh jaan one of my favorite lines by Muhammad Ali

by Esfand Aashena on

I told you I'm the greatest not the smartest!  Or was it I'm the prettiest not the smartest?!

Anyway this was in response to him failing an IQ test or something for military service!  He is definately the greatest! 

Everything is sacred

Azadeh Azad

I simply adore Muhammad Ali

by Azadeh Azad on

And my favourite line by him is this:

"I'm so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.” LOL.

He is one of the finest men alive!


Anahid Hojjati

Yolanda, this is great

by Anahid Hojjati on

that you got along with Japanese International students. People find common values and interests and even if they are from different countries, they can become good friends.



by yolanda on

Hi Anahid,

   I agree with you that we need to separate the people from the government. When I was in Hawaii, I ran into a lot of Japanese international students.......we did not talk atrocities.....we got along fine!


Anahid Hojjati

Esfand and Yolanda, my Asian coworkers always...

by Anahid Hojjati on

Remind me about atrocities committed by Japanese during world war11. They are from several different countries and whenever I go on about how nice and polite I find Japanese to be, they tell me that Japan committed atrocities against other Asian countries and it looks like they never apologized for many of them. In any case, my experience has been with ordinary Japanese and being from Iran, we know that we can not hold people of a country responsible for crimes of their governments.



by yolanda on

Hi Mouse,

  Yes, that is the same movie! Yes, Japanese killed a lot of Chinese during WWII.............that is why some Chinese still feel uncomfortable with Japanese dad told me that there are 700,000 Chinese living in Japan though.

Ali is very charismatic!

Esfand Aashena

Yolanda I couldn't get to Netflix

by Esfand Aashena on

I can't to get Netflix from work anymore but I think this is the link to the John Rabe movie.  Or here. Hopefully one of these days I'll write a blog about WWII movies.

The extent of atrocities to Chinese in WWII is horrific and really comparable to the atrocities in Europe.  Some probably worse.

Muhammad Ali is an international treausure!  You know every country has sport figures that they know and cherish from one generation to another.  One such hero for Iran is Gholamreza Takhti.  He is Iran's first Olympic gold medalist and is universally loved in Iran.  All except some monarchists who didn't like his not taking the Shah seriously or giving him enough respect after he won the gold in 1956 or 3 years after the coup!  Rumors has it that he was killed by Savak.  His pictures are all over Iran in stores and elsewhere.

Muhammad Ali is an international figure and goes beyond any one country. 



by yolanda on

Thank you for the re-release of your interesting blog! John Rabe is like Oskar Shindler type of figure to the! He saved quarter of million people's lives...Here is the movie trailer about John Rabe:


I read Ali' autobiography and Pele's autobiography in my native language when I was a teenager!

Ali did a great job with his letter to Khamenei........I hope the 2 hikers will be released soon!

Ali called Khamenei "brother" I was trying to figure out if he is a Shia Muslim.....I read on Wiki that he converted to sufism.

Ali is a very special person and likes little kids a lot/hugged them a lot...... I recall he lit the Olympic torch several years ago.

Thank you for sharing!

Anahid Hojjati

Esfand jan, your description of boxing style of Frazier

by Anahid Hojjati on

is just as I remember it.  However, Ali's style was more graceful and combined athletic skills with dance like steps very well.

Esfand Aashena

Anahid jaan Joe Frazier had "raghse kamar"!

by Esfand Aashena on

Just as Muhammad Ali would float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, Joe Frazier would float like a horse and sting like a bee!

Joe Frazier would pivot his body on his waist lowering his head, neck and upper body (like a a horse) and swing left and right while lowered, confusing his opponent and when he'd come up he'd unload with not only his shoulder and arm muscles but also with his stomach and waist muscles.  Very effective!

Joe Frazier was actually Muhammad Ali's number 1 opponent!  He wouldn't get upset if you mentioned any of his opponents except Joe Frazier!

Some of our shadow boxings in school yard included becoming Joe Frazier going up and down and trying to hit our opponent who was dancing around with his "raghse pa"! 

Everything is sacred

Anahid Hojjati

Very nostalgic blog, Esfand jan.

by Anahid Hojjati on

Thanks for reminding me of some fun times growing up. We must be close in age since I have had similar experiences.  I remember watching earlier matches of Muhammad Ali. I was actually a fan of "Joe Frazier"! I was very young and my twin and I usually had to have a friendy rivalry. She was Gogooshi and I was Rameshi. She was pro Ali and I was fan of Frazier. Thinking about it now, there is no comparison between them. Frazier had no "raghse pa"' and was not charismatic like Ali. Thanks for sharing your memories.

Esfand Aashena

Maryam jaan he was Cassius Clay and then became Muhammad Ali!

by Esfand Aashena on

"Clay" was dropped off.  I actually don't recall him as ever being Cassius Clay but do remember us calling him Muhammad-Ali-Clay!  in one breath! Keley!

When we were talking too much and getting all excited shadow boxing and all some of us would try to share the "new information" that his name is actually Cassius Clay!  We didn't understand the process of changing names so Muhammad-Ali-Clay was what we used most, I think!

Muhammad Ali in wiki

Everything is sacred

Maryam Hojjat

Nice Story of Mohammad Ali Clay

by Maryam Hojjat on

I remember vivdly those day when all of us in my family would get up to watch his game match.