February 6, 1967. Ernie Terrell was fighting Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight crown. Terrell was technically the champion, though the boxing world still recognized Ali since he was stripped of his crown for converting to Islam and associating with The Nation of Islam. The boxing world only recognizes champions decided in a ring. So Terrell was really the challenger and he decided to continue to call Ali by his former name Cassius Clay. This incensed Ali, who told everyone that he would humiliate Terrell for it and he did just that. Purposefully NOT knocking Ernie out so that he could turn his face to a pulp. Ali would shout “What’s my name!” with every punishing blow late in the fight.
Ernie eventually would say his name.
The contempt that Ernie Terrell showed Muhammad Ali was not unlike that which John McCain showed Barack Obama recently in their first debate. John McCain wouldn’t so much as look at Barack Obama in the first Presidential debate. Many people have speculated as to why. I won’t bother to do that, but I will make one point. John McCain WILL look at Barack Obama and he will eventually say his name.
He’ll call him President of the United States of America. He’ll go on in life as a historical footnote, much the same as Ernie Terrell did. The only reason we know Ernie’s name is because he wouldn’t speak Ali’s. McCain will be remembered as the bitter old man who did not want to resign himself to the destiny of losing a race for President so the country could turn a page and move to a new era. His blind ambition to be President and the fact that he is trailing Obama angers him.
I’m only going to ask you one more time, John. What’s his name?
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