Legendary boxing emcee Michael Buffer, widely known for his “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” calls before big matches, joined The Ryan Kelley Morning After on Monday to discuss the passing of Muhammad Ali.
Read some excerpts and listen to the full interview below:
What went through your mind when you heard the news Ali died?
“It’s really strange. When that happened…I was having dinner with Neil Leifer (a legendary sports photographer, the only one to be elected into the Boxing Hall of Fame). All those great pictures of Mohammad Ali, the famous one where he’s standing over Sonny Liston…Leifer is a lifetime friend of Ali’s. Five minutes after he passed, Neil got the call (and everyone who was there just sat there in silence.) We couldn’t even have dessert. We knew it was coming…but it was still just crushing.”
Did you get a chance to know him well?
“I can’t say I got to know him well. But as fate would have it, when he started training in (Pennsylvania), I was a devout Muhammed Ali and boxing fan. I could drive an hour and a half and go to his training camp. I used to go there in 1973 and 1974, when he was training for the second Norton fight, the second Frazier fan. As a fan, I just used to go there religiously and just hang out. And sort of got accepted as a guy who was a fan (and I would ocassionally get invited for dinner in their mess hall). I got to know him better after his career. He never knew I was the same guy who would visit his training camp. But he would walk up to me and whisper in my ear, ‘You know I’m still better looking than you.'”
Where would you rank Ali among the greatest heavyweights of all time?
“You have to put him at the top of the heap. We lost 3.5 years that would’ve been primetime in his career. He was so good at that point. He was almost impossible to hit (in those matches leading up to his boxing sabbatical). Could he compete with the guys today? Probably. If you’re (saying pound for pound) he would probably beat them all.”