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Chennai boxer’s life bookmarked by Muhammad Ali meeting

Published : Jun 5, 2016, 6:37 am IST
Updated : Jun 5, 2016, 6:37 am IST

Chennai man Rocky Brass accomplished something the likes of Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier and George Foreman could not achieve: evade a Muhammad Ali punch.

Rocky Brass and Muhammad Ali during the knockout.
 Rocky Brass and Muhammad Ali during the knockout.

Chennai man Rocky Brass accomplished something the likes of Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier and George Foreman could not achieve: evade a Muhammad Ali punch. Mr Brass talked his way up for a micro bout with Ali when the three-time world champion visited Chennai in 1980. “The fight wasn’t on the schedule but there was commotion when Tamil Nadu Chief minister MGR came to the venue. I asked Ali whether I could come up to the ring. He beckoned me in immediately,” the 59-year-old Anglo-Indian said.

The efforts of Mr Brass, 21 years then, to land a punch on Ali proved fut-ile. Incredibly, Ali also failed to hit his target with a straight left. “The greatest boxer in the history of the sport unleas-hed a rapid-fire left, but I somehow managed to duck it. I could hear the whizzing sound of his flying hand over my head. Had he connected, I would have been floored. For me, he was simply too tall to land a punch,” he said.

“Sharing the ring with Ali was a dream and I wouldn’t let it fade away until I die. It was God’s gift to me. My life is bookmarked by the Ali meeting and I never get tired of speaking about it,” he said.

Ali paid rich compliments to the young tyro after the bout. “You are one of the most promising boxers in India. I felt over the moon. In fact I got a job — though it was at the lowest level — in railways thanks to Ali’s kind words. I moved up the ladder in railways pretty quickly and I’m now a mail guard. I will retire next year but there is no sell-by date for my Ali memories,” Brass said.

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