With the recent passing of Muhammad Ali, I thought that I would share my story about my encounter with “The Greatest.” For my first job out of college, I worked at a trade association in downtown Washington, D.C. My new boss, some of my coworkers and I were having lunch in a conference room that had windows facing the front of the building. As we ate our lunch, we noticed a small crowd gathering outside in front of the bank across the street. As the “new girl”, I was sent to go see what was going on.
When I got outside, the mob was gradually growing and I could finally see what the excitement was all about. Muhammad Ali and the small entourage that accompanied him had just come out of the bank. He was very noticeably shaking from his Parkinson’s and for some reason, I caught his eye. He proceeded to basically play “hide and seek” with me, hiding behind the columns outside the bank. He would peek out, smile at me, and then go behind the column again. This repeated a few times and then he motioned for me to come closer. Meanwhile, the throng of people watched this exchange curiously. I myself was wondering what it was all about. Why me? I walked toward him as he requested and he leaned forward and kissed me on the cheek. I must have turned a ridiculously bright shade of red. After that, The Champ and his crew got into a car and drove away.
I wondered if my coworkers saw this whole exchange from the windows. I eagerly ran up the stairs, threw open the door, jumped up and down and said “The Champ kissed me!” To say they were jealous is an understatement. Being the new girl that day had its advantages. The man whom many consider the greatest athlete of all time kissed me on the cheek. For no apparent reason. I guess there was a reason though—to give me a story to tell my kids….and you.