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Buffalo boxer who met Muhammad Ali, remembers what made him 'The Greatest'

Library of Congress

Buffalo is joining the rest of the world in mourning the death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, including one local boxer.

Don Patterson, boxing trainer and organizer of the annual Buffalo Golden Gloves Tournament, said the world has lost a transformative figure. He said Ali personally inspired him.

“He definitely had a major impact on me,” remembered Patterson. “He was my hero. I admired him as a kid. He’s the reason I told my father I wanted boxing gloves.”

Patterson said Ali was more than a boxing champion – he was a citizen of the world.

“He’s been the most recognizable person in the world for quite some time, obviously not just as an athlete, but the positions he took in terms of addressing the injustices of our time – a the racism, the Vietnam War – speaks volumes as to who he is,” Patterson said.

Patterson met Ali on more than one occasion. He recalled Ali as kind and always gracious.

“He would make you feel like the best person in the world by giving you his time,” said Patterson. “And he would do that not with people who were of stature – who he treated well, also – but he’d do it to the common man as well. So he leaves an example of how we should always treat each other with kindness and love.”

Patterson said the likes of Muhammad Ali will never be seen again. He said Ali truly was "the Greatest."

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