Russ Routledge is an amateur boxer from Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1984, he spent a week living with Muhammad Ali, the greatest fighter of all time. Russ was down on his luck and far from home, and Ali was attempting to deal with retirement and the onset of Parkinson’s. The story of their unlikely friendship has been published by Sports Illustrated’s The Cauldron at Medium.

“Muhammad Ali is a fast driver. He guns his Stutz Bearcat along Wilshire Boulevard, swinging in and out of busy traffic, and throws a hard left onto Rossmore Avenue. Pedestrians point and wave, and Ali lifts his hands from the wheel to throw shadow punches in their directions. Stopped at a red, a driver leans from his car window and shouts, “Hey Ali — you’re the greatest!” Ali bites down on his Louisville lip and offers the driver a comic grimace. Then, as the light turns, the man they call the Champ hits the gas and races toward Hollywood Boulevard.”

Read the full story at The Cauldron, from Sports Illustrated, at Medium.

Versions of this story were also published in issue 12 of Meze magazine and issue 10 of Air magazine.

Burgers with Muhammad Ali
Russ Routledge with Muhammad Ali (Photo: Russ Routledge)

Published by Paul Brown

Writes about football and history. Four Four Two, When Saturday Comes, The Blizzard etc. Latest book: Savage Enthusiasm: A History of Football Fans. Twitter: @paulbrownUK

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