When Muhammad Ali came to town

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Muhammad Ali’s death has triggered a flood of memories for some folks who remember when he visited Columbus over 30 years ago. Local radio sportscaster Scott Miller had a chance to interview Ali while he was here.

Scott Miller has interviewed some sports giants in his radio career here in Columbus. None bigger than when Muhammad Ali came for a visit sometime in the early 80s.

“He was in town to endorse and do some commercials for, as I recall, a furniture store with some electronics involved on Victory Drive,” said Miller

Scott asked permission to do an interview while Ali was signing autographs.

“Somebody took some pictures which amazingly I still have. And the interview is…I haven’t found it yet. I have more tapes than Richard Nixon had, so it’s probably going to take me awhile, but hopefully I can find that,” said Miller.

One thing Scott remembers discussing with the champ was an upcoming bout.

“There was a heavyweight fight that was in the news that was about to take place, and I asked him about that. And I said, you could whip both of those guys now probably. And he said, oh yeah,yeah. I could both. And you know what, I could whip you too, Scott, right here. And I said, drop the mike, over. Muhammad Ali is trash talking me. So that was the coolest moment of that. I hope I can find that interview somewhere, but that was awesome!”

After the promotional event, Ali invited Scott and his wife to a dinner that night in his honor.

“We’re at Shogun. I remember A.J.  McClung, mayor pro tem at the time, was representing the city and there were some councilmen and other people there that night. He did magic tricks. His hands were huge, so huge, but they were fast. He did card tricks that…you could see what kind of great athlete he was.  He could have been a great tightend probably,” said Miller. “And then he did a trick where he appeared to levitate off the floor. Seriously, I don’t know how he did it. Everybody was amazed. He just kind of smiled and sat back down. Floated like a butterfly…that’s right. We just remember how, and my wife Peggy talks about this, how nice he seemed. Very soft spoken. Very mild-mannered. So nice to everyone. And the ladies just loved him. He was Mr. Charm.”

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