Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Muhammad Ali's manager Herbert Muhammad Dies

Chicago, 1964: Ali with Elijah Muhammad and Elijah's son Herbert Muhammad

Article By Kevin Iole

posted by ScottG

By Kevin Iole
Herbert Muhammad, one of the most powerful figures in boxing in the 1960s and 1970s when he was managing heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali's career, died Monday in Chicago.
He never recovered after undergoing triple heart bypass surgery. He was 78.
Muhammad, whose father, Elijah Muhammad, was the leader of the Nation of Islam, began managing Ali's career in 1964, shortly after Ali defeated Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight title.
Muhammad negotiated a $10 million purse for Ali to fight Joe Frazier on March 8, 1971, in a bout many consider the biggest event in the sport's history. It was known as "The Fight of the Century."
His negotiating skill on Ali's behalf helped to drive up salaries for athletes in all sports, said Gene Kilroy, Ali's longtime friend and his former business manager.
"He was a good guy and he never got his just due," Kilroy said. "He did a lot for Muhammad and he was a very, very sharp guy. Back in those days, (NFL Hall of Famer) Jim Brown was making something like $60,000 a year. The top baseball players were making around $50,000 or so.
"Ali started making those huge purses because of Herbert and that helped raised salaries for all athletes."
In a brilliant April 25, 1988, piece about Ali's entourage in Sports Illustrated, Gary Smith wrote of Muhammad's negotiating brilliance.
"The Manager had ushered in the era of million-dollar sports contract, brilliantly playing promoters Don King and Bob Arum off against each other," Smith wrote.
Smith later quoted Ali saying that Muhammad would be the only non-family member he'd take with him if he could take five people on a trip to the moon.
Muhammad also worked with Ali in his post-fighting career and estimated Ali could have been making as much as $30 million a year in the late 1980s had he been interesting in pursuing endorsement deals, which he was not.
Kilroy said Ali, who rarely speaks because of the effects of Parkinson's disease and who did not release a statement regarding Muhammad's death, was aware of how important his manager was in his career.
"Herbert did so much for Muhammad that people don't know about, it's a crime," Kilroy said. "He deserves to be remembered for what he did for Ali."


ScottG said...

Randy, help me out here. The article somehow posted twice on top of itself Can you remove one? thanks

Randy De La O said...

Scott, I tried but something is going on with the html. I'll take care of it when I get home tonight. Good post.

Randy De La O said...

Okay Scott, It's fixed.

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