Muhammad Ali and the Fighting Spirit

The bell rang on Muhammad Ali late this past Friday. A heavyweight champion, poet, Olympic champion, Supreme Court litigant and hero to many all over the world, the best word to describe Ali is still “fighter.” Ali is known for his fights in the ring and outside it, most notably for his support for civil rights and opposition to Vietnam.

Ali’s image has been in my offices for a few years now. There is a poster of Neil Leifer’s famous picture of Ali standing over Sonny Liston after knocking him down to win his first title belt in 1964 in the office of Jazlowiecki & Jazlowiecki, which was my first firm job. In 2012 I went out on my own and shared and office with Kevin Smith in New Haven. Kevin had the exact same poster in his office. I have a picture of Ali as the desktop background on my office computer: Ali dodging a punch from Joe Frazier in 1971′s “Fight of the Century.” Before that I had one of Frazier catching Ali with his famous left-hook. Trials and cases are fights. We are usually the underdogs on the defense side of criminal and child protection matters, going up against the State and its resources. We take a lot of hits but keep getting up.

While standing over Liston in 1964, Ali yelled, “Get up and fight, sucker!” Although that was said in a taunting manner, Ali inspired many to do just that.


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