His legendary athleticism was spawned from a training schedule that would frighten most people to death: his long early morning runs were merely gentle precursors to the day's activities. He didn't even consider it part of the training, merely an add on.
In Powell's eyes glints a steel. Periodically he checks the phone before him on the table. He possesses the unmistakable aura of the driven man, forever in demand. I ask him how he originally got into the game, when his phone rings. He takes the call. It's business.
Those who didn't like Ali dismissed him as all mouth. Many who write off Obama make a similar point. All he can do is talk, they will say, great at campaigning but not at leading. They're wrong. Never have Barack Obama's gifts as a communicator been as needed by America as they are right now.
How long should you brush your teeth for before you meet Muhammad Ali? I had eaten a taco earlier in the day. What a fool I had been. A young fool full of the naivety of New York. What would happen if I did a taco burp as I was introduced to Muhammad Ali? It did not bear thinking about.
Muhammad Ali came with a legend surrounding him. I interviewed him four times and was fortunate to map out the rise and fall of this fascinating man. He was an extraordinary man, and a great athlete, with charisma; nobody I have ever met had that in such abundance as he.
Muhammad Ali's 70th birthday is occasion for both celebration and sadness. Celebration because it allows us to reflect on the huge impact he has had on the world both in and out of the ring. Sadness because it seems more than likely that he won't be around to celebrate his 71st.