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“Eight … nine … 10, you’re out.” Toll the bell. The greatest heavyweight boxer of all-time, Muhammad Ali, has suffered the biggest loss of his life — literally.

Ali passed away from septic shock June 3, but while he leaves this world, the legacy he left will not fade.

Boxing is regarded in the sports world as the “sweet science.” Ali perfected the craft as a young man in the then segregated city of Louisville, K.Y. Someone had stolen his new bicycle and a police officer overheard then-Cassius Clay say he was going to beat up whoever stole it. The police officer invited Ali to train at the boxing gym where he coached, and that is where the future legend was born.

No one quite knew that he would become such a polarizing figure with his fists, quick feet, unorthodox style of avoiding punches, and who can forget his trash-talk?

Sometimes a person’s big mouth can get them in trouble. For Ali, it was the contrary.

If Ali made you the subject of his trash-talking tirades, it was considered an honor because that meant he respected you.

No, I never had the pleasure of meeting the famed boxer, who in the final 34 years of his life fought his toughest battle — Parkinson’s Disease. But I have read accounts of his storied career and ability to light up a room with his charm and, yes, lack of filter.

The man had a poetic tone to his taunting. He had it down to a science, much like what famed Boston Celtic Larry Bird did to his opponents.

Bird had a ruthlessness about the way he taunted opponents. One story is about when Dennis Rodman coming into the league with Detroit in 1986. He was given the honor of guarding Bird.

There are numerous accounts of how Bird approached then Pistons’ head coach Chuck Daly and said: “Who’s guarding me, is anyone guarding me, Chuck?” Bird then hollered to teammates to quickly get him the ball before they realized no one was guarding him. Of course, Rodman was there.

Sheer ruthlessness.

Then, there is Ali, who would not only tell you that you’re worthless, he’d prove it.

One of my favorites is when he was asked what he was going to do when he fought Joe Frazier?

His answer?

“I said Joe’s gonna come out smokin’ and I aint gonna be jokin’. I’ll be peckin’ and a pokin’. This might shock and amaze ya, but I’m gonna destroy Joe Frazier. Some people may say, ‘You better watch Joe Frazier. He’s awful strong.’ I say, tell him to try Ban Roll-on — that’s deodorant.”

Now, if it were Bird, he would’ve just said Joe Frazier is going to lose — and he would, because Bird was just ruthless like that. He had that subtle approach of the quiet guy in school that you know could erupt.

If Bird said he would do something, he would not only do it, but he made sure you knew that he made you look like a fool.

Ali was one for the dramatic. He embraced the limelight that was cast upon him once he started winning bout after bout.

It was his time to shine, and he not only embraced it, he forced his opponents to recognize his dominance.

Ali was outspoken on political issues and he was said to have one of the biggest hearts outside of the ring for those in need.

If Ali were to fight today, he likely would not have the same impact he did in the 60s and 70s. Simply because the hot-button issue of concussions is at the forefront, he would likely be vilified for his caustic personality and arrogance.

Some might characterize him as a bad influence, but others who yearn for that poetic sports figure would still welcome him.

The sports world is missing an outspoken figure like Ali, and that void will likely remain unfilled. He was a product of the times and an ambassador for all Americans to speak their minds, regardless of consequences.

He once said: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” With all he has given to the sports world, there should be a surplus of rent.

Long live the champ.

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