Muhammad Ali’s ‘Controversial’ Legacy Impacted John Farrell At Young Age

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BOSTON — The world lost “The Greatest” on Friday, and the countless people Muhammad Ali affected continue to pay their respects.

The boxing legend and outspoken activist passed away late Friday night at the age of 74, prompting an outpouring of tributes honoring his legacy.

On Saturday, it was John Farrell’s turn, as the Boston Red Sox manager began his press conference ahead the Red Sox’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays by offering his thoughts on the passing of a legend.

“I can remember as a kid, 9 or 10 years old, my dad was a fan of boxing, so to see some of his matches being televised — he was certainly a controversial figure in some people’s minds,” Farrell said. “He was clear to talk about how good he was. But the thing you remember most is, it’s almost like every big match he had had its own name, whether it’s ‘The Fight,’ or the ‘Thrilla in Manila,’ anything like that.”

Ali is regarded as one of the most successful and dominant boxers of all time, but he arguably made a greater impact outside the ring, where he incited criticism and controversy by standing up for what he believed in. His decision in 1964 to join the Nation of Islam and change his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali was one that left a lasting impact on Farrell.

“Personally, not knowing what Islam was about and to see someone change his name and become so familiar with that — that was a major shift in trying to get an understanding of what (Islam) was as a kid,” Farrell said. “It was very different, very unique. ”

Watch Muhammad Ali’s 10 greatest knockouts >>

Thumbnail photo via Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports Images

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