Former world heavyweight champion Larry Holmes has lauded the influence Muhammad Ali had on his career sixteen months after his idol passed away.
Speaking at a TAG Heuer event in London, Holmes also believes his home country of the United States could do more to honor the most recognizable sportsman in history.
“What it means to me is we are slipping in America,” Holmes told Gareth A. Davies of The Telegraph. “Muhammad Ali is one of the greatest fighters of all time. We’ve got to go all the way over to the UK to see one of the greatest of all time be honoured. It’s amazing how he was loved all over the world. He was my idol. He gave me a job, gave me an opportunity. I ended up fighting him at the end of his career.
“He’s (Muhammad Ali) got a lot of fans and everybody remembers what he did. They want to do something about it. But I’m not going to put everything on Muhammad Ali. He was one of the greatest fighters and so was Joe Louis, so was Marciano, so was Jack Johnson and a lot of guys. Muhammad Ali was it because he could talk and make people laugh. And also make people cry.
“He came out to talk to kids in school for me. He came to women’s prisons with me to talk to inmates. He did so much for me. He gave me a job. He put food on my table. This man was everything. I hurt more than a lot of people when we lost him.”
Holmes added: “I didn’t use him. A lot of people used Muhammad Ali because he was Muhammad Ali and he let them. Why? Because he was Muhammad Ali.
“He was a great guy and he’d let them do that to him. When I told the principle that I was going to bring Muhammad Ali to school do you think they believed me? No. But when they saw him come out there they believed what I was saying.”
Ali passed away in June of 2016 following years of battling Parkinson’s disease, which ultimately took away his amazing ability to talk and left him muted for much of his later life.
Boxing has paid tribute to ‘The Greatest’ on many occasions in the past and will never forget the legacy the three-time heavyweight champion left on the sport.