Thursday, June 16, 2016

Mohammed Ali and Me

Back in 1979, when I was a young policeman, I was working uniformed patrol in Hollywood Division.  My partner and I were driving on Hollywood Blvd one evening on a Saturday night in the middle of summer.  It was still light out, and the sidewalks were crowded with the usual tourists and Gawkers that visit Hollywood.  We were stopped at a red light at Hollywood Blvd and McCadden Ave when I looked over at the group of pedestrians bunched up on the corner waiting for the light to change.  There was a crowd of about 10/15 people waiting there, and right in the middle of them, unaware to anyone in the crowd, was the reigning heavyweight champion of the world, Mohammed Ali, and his then wife Veronica Porsche.

I yelled to my partner, “Stop the car,” and bolted towards the crowd.  You can imagine the faces on the people there as they watched a police officer run straight at them.  I ran right up to the Champ, who had this startled look on his face, and said, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!” He suddenly relaxed, let out a laugh, and replied, “Rumble young man, Rumble!”  The crowd finally realized who was standing in their midst, let out a great cheer, and began clapping.

The Champ couldn’t have been more gracious.  We chatted for a few minutes and then he signed my officer’s notebook.  You just never know who you’re going to meet on the streets of Hollywood.