WASHINGTON, June 4, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following is a statement by National Press Club President Thomas Burr on the passing of Muhammad Ali.
The National Press Club collectively mourns the passing of Muhammad Ali. He was the greatest. We recognize him for his great skill as a sportsman, but he was far more than that. He was a social force who challenged and forever changed the way Americans think about race, religion, war and peace. And Muhammad Ali was an absolute gift to the news business. He loved the cameras and was quick with a quote. His picture was everywhere. His words were often like poetry: "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." He was an American original who was beloved by many in his country and known around the world to millions. He was the Champ.
Muhammad Ali had a long history at the National Press Club and was himself an important part of our story. Most recently he responded to our appeal in March of 2015 and issued a statement calling for the release of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian who was held in prison in Iran. When Jason was eventually released Ali tweeted that was his greatest birthday gift.
In 2011 Ali appeared at the Press Club as part of a news conference calling for the release of two American hikers being held in Iran. Those prisoners too were eventually released. At that time Ali was wheelchair bound, wearing dark glass and did not speak publicly – although the Club has wonderful photos of the event.
Ali's best known appearance at the Press Club was in August 1976 when he appeared at a National Press Club luncheon with heavyweight challenger Ken Norton. This was to promote the 3rd Ali-Norton fight at Yankee Stadium in September 1976. In that fight Ali successfully defended his title, but the match was controversial. On the day of the luncheon Ali and Norton happened to run into each other in the lobby of the Press Club and began an impromptu sparing match to the delight of the media and the cameras.
Contact: Bill McCarren, 202-662-7534 for the National Press Club
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SOURCE National Press Club