Dr Brown Reflects On Muhammad Ali’s Legacy

June 6, 2016

[Opinion column written by Dr Ewart Brown]

Even though he was only four years older, I always thought of Muhammad Ali as my big brother. I first met him as a teenager, outside my father’s bar in Flatts, and shook his huge right hand. I have adored the brother ever since.

I followed every written or televised word about Cassius Clay. My admiration grew as he became Muhammad Ali, Heavyweight Champion of the world. But he was much more than that to me, so our paths would cross as only God can design.

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When I was President of my Medical School class in 1968-69, I knew that Ali was coming to the Howard University campus to speak. I showed up where he was scheduled to speak, and asked him if he would come down to the Medical School and speak to my classmates [105 of them] for a short while.

He told me he was very tired, but he would speak for a few minutes and would have to leave. Close to an hour later, I was almost dragging Ali out of the lecture hall. He had mesmerized my colleagues and me with his razor-sharp wit and understanding of global politics. His appetite for discussions on Race, Excellence and Hard Work was insatiable.

When he told the Selective Service Board that day in Houston, Texas, that he would not serve in the army, I happened to be in Houston for a speaking engagement at Texas Southern University.

Around midnight, I was in the men’s room at the then new International Airport when I heard a familiar voice. It was Ali. We talked briefly about Bermuda. He asked me to hug Olive Trott for him [which I later did] and we each went to our flights.

About two years later, I had moved to California to complete my medical internship. Earlier, before moving, I had been a part-time sports writer for the Washington Post for about four years.

The phone rang very early one morning in 1974. It was Jim Bethea, the only Black reporter in the Sports Section of the Post. He wanted to know if I was interested in becoming a member of Ali’s medical team, then headed by Dr. Ferdie Pacheco. Although I was unable to accept the job, I was honoured by the offer and did travel to Miami for an interview and tour of the Fifth Street Gym where Ali trained.

Before and after these memorable events, I followed Ali through his ups and downs, frequently benefiting from his kind and thoughtful way of life. I studied the man. I knew many of his closest friends and some of those who hated what he stood for in his life.

Ali was consistent. He was precise and he was determined. When his medical problems began to dominate his life, I began to wish that he had stopped boxing earlier.

But I have learned something from Ali about the arc of a man’s life. If we look for perfection in a human life, we will never find it. More importantly, when the focus is on perfection and imperfection, we miss the point. It is the total arc of a man’s life that is meant to serve as a beacon of new understanding for us.

Parting with Muhammad Ali is difficult for me. I always thought, in my private dream world, that he would live forever!

- Dr Ewart Brown


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Comments (49)

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  1. Really Really BETTTY says:

    Dr. BROWN it is apparent that you spent some wonderful moments with The Greatest of all time…..you were surely honored to have developed such a relationship with him.

    Thanks for sharing your outstanding history with such a Great man..

    Keep telling these wonderful historical moments…..

  2. Sage says:

    Did Ali teach you anything about ethics?

    • Its me again says:

      Whos this sage person with a chip on their shoulder?

      • innna says:

        His name is bermuda… and he wants to know what happened to his economy

        • Onion Juice says:

          I find this more interesting then de Milkman who don’t have a clue or can’t relate to de struggle.

      • Hurricane says:

        @ Its me again, a chip on his shoulder is putting it mildly. Sounds to me like someone filled with dislike.

    • Dr. the Hon. Ewart F. Brown says:

      Yes, he did. He taught me how to identify racists and respond or not respond to them.

      • Drewson says:

        But you did respond! Lesson not learned.

  3. Betty's son says:

    There was a time in the life of Muhammad Ali when his detractors equaled his admirers, however today and in history he will be recorded as the greatest. He will be known as the greatest no only for his boxing ability but for the positive impact he made for country and the world. You Dr. Brown find yourself in a similar situation. I am sure that history will record you as great for the positive influence you have had for your country.

    • Its me again says:

      I agree

    • Terry says:

      Define “your country”.

      Gitmo was good to you.

    • bee says:

      everyone dies a hero….

    • Betty Boop says:

      Are you crazy? One of the worst Premiers we have ever had, and believe me it’s not because of his colour, he ruined our country and divided us big time. Dr, Brown will go down in history as the man who famous words were This Too Shall Pass. hahahahahahahahaha.

      • wahoo says:

        Or “We had to deceive you” Probably because he could.

      • Truth Teller says:

        Betty Boop you are sounding like Ms. Donald Trump: Everyone knows that some white people divided Bermuda and still do. If you don’t believe me just read all of the history books, studies and reports produced over the last 60 years. Its all there. And each and every one came to the same conclusion that some white people divided Bermuda :)

        And they and their black surrogates continue to do except for the few like Lynne Winfield…..a real sister unlike you Betty.

        • Dotty says:

          A real sister? Winfield came all the way from the UK to tell us to keep foreigners out and that she understands the black struggle.LOL!!

    • CCT says:

      You have got to be joking!!

  4. Verly says:

    Ali your big brother, are you kidding me? A few chance meetings would hardly qualify you as his little brother, Dr. Brown.

    This focus of this story seemed to be more on Dr. Brown, and less about the great Muhammad Ali. Narcissism at its best.

    • Yahoo says:

      Erat never passes up an opportunity to toot his own horn.

    • LaVerne Furbert says:

      Where did Dr. Brown write that he was Muhammad Ali’s little brother? He did write “I always thought of Muhammad Ali as my big brother”. Every tribute to Muhammad Ali that I’ve read or heard, the person giving the tribute has talked about the impression that Muhammad Ali had on his/her life?

      You are the one who is narcissistic, not Dr. Brown.

      • innna says:

        for someone to be someones big brother one must be a little brother… its how the whole brother thing works

        • some ppl dont get tired says:

          It appears you are reading his words all out of contexts. You can look up to various people as things that they are not (or do not even reciprocate) just off the mere influence they have had on your life.

          For instance…a child who lost or never knew their mother or father has been positively impacted my another individual. Is it your right to nullify their feelings of looking up to that individual as a mother/father simply because that individual does not refer to them as their son or daughter????

          It’s so sad how long people hold grudges for certain individuals and let that effect every judgment of that person whether it’s a good or bad situation.

          Let it go…

          P.S. If you dislike someone so much…don’t waste your time read anything that starts off with their name.

        • wahoo says:

          Oh brother!

      • Yahoo says:

        Had to know Laverne would come rushing to defend…

      • Verly says:

        Go back to school, as you clearly cannot read. Or is comprehension your issue?

        Is your sole purpose in life to be Dr. Brown’s cheerleader?

    • bluwater says:

      Yep. It’s all mememememememe! Look at memmmememe! Suprise.

  5. Cathy says:

    Dr Brown,
    I find it very moving that you took the time to share this.

    • North Rock says:

      I read this while I was also in the little room….and I too was moved…ahhhhhhhhhhhhh !

      • Charlie says:

        I too found it moving. Subsequently used the same article to remove remnants of said movement – double thanks to the Doc. Your musings were useful in the end.

  6. ProudBermudian says:

    Please judge Dr. Brown on this article alone – it’s interesting to see how paths can cross throughout a lifetime and how in a series of short interactions, Ali could so affect someone.

    Regardless of your personal feelings towards Dr. Brown, please respect this tribute to ‘The Greatest’.

    • bluwater says:

      Just this article? Dr. The Hon Ewart F Brown has been pushing his wannabe importance into people’s faces for ages.

    • serengeti says:

      “…it’s interesting to see how paths can cross throughout a lifetime.”

      Well, actually, they appear to have been in the same room twice. They met once on a campus in when Mr Ali did a lecture, and once in a bathroom at an airport.

      And then Dr Brown was ‘unable to accept a position’ for which he traveled to Miami to interview (although it is not clear whether he was offered a job).

      It is not surprising given the well-deserved popularity or Mr Ali that even minor meetings with him are regarded as important in people’s lives. But let’s not read something into it that isn’t there.

  7. BobsYourUncle says:

    How does a call from a report about a job to work for Ali reflect on Ali’s character? Sounds more like Brown trying to sound more important than he actually was/is

    • Jus' Wonderin' says:

      He’s not that important anymore…just a once was.

  8. Hurricane says:

    I don’t know why the haters can’t just read and move on (I can almost see bitterness eating away at them),but I thank you for this Dr, Brown.

    • Betty Boop says:

      oh well, we do have opinions, I’m sure you have one about the OBA.

      • Hurricane says:

        @ Betty Boop, you bet your boots I do, but you won’t seen them in writing here and they don’t consume me in they way that they appear to be doing these bitter souls. I’m done…….

  9. Common Sense says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this tribute to Muhammad Ali from Dr. Ewart Brown. I just wish for a moment that everyone would simply put their politics and their political agendas to one side for a moment and appreciate how “The Greatest” touched people’s lives and that he was a force for good in the World at a time when there was so much antagonism towards him and for what he represented. Thank you Dr. Brown for giving us your account of your encounters with one of the great legends of our generation.

  10. Average Bermudian says:

    fey ???


  11. takbir Sharrieff says:

    Muhammad Ali has made an ……impression …..on everyone that he has touched. Even …..the racist Devils……….have been touched ….by him….even though …they can not touch …him. Rest in Peace my brother. Al- hamdullilah ,Allah – u -Akbar.

  12. Wendy. P says:

    We are all brothers, sometimes one brother impacts on each of us more than another does. If we are lucky enough to meet a very significant human being it is natural to feel more of a Kinship with that person. This was well written.. Poignant and reflective. It strikes me that if Ewart Brown found a cure for cancer the haters would still find a way to go on the attack.
    And by the way, I never in my life voted PLP snf was a member of the UBP and OBA! I am tired of the political extremes in both camps!

  13. say it like it is says:

    Who is Ewart Brown?

  14. Islander says:

    Its a lovely article and inspiring. The tales Ali told of disgusting racism that he encountered, tales recounted by a man who inspired so many by his accomplishments – and whose word is therefore seen as the plain truth, paint a picture of vile attitudes that most people today have trouble imagining and almost none can conceive today.