Muhammad Ali and Johnny began exchanging poetry via telephone, once they each became aware of the others’ similar talents.
Ali was scheduled to fight Leon Spinks at the Superdome in New Orleans on Sept.15, 1978. Ali invited Johnny and his band to attend the fight as his guest. Johnny chartered a jet to go from Nashville to New Orleans and return as this was done on short notice and there were no commercial flights available.
We arrived in New Orleans in time for Johnny and I to go to Ali’s hotel room, as planned, at 4:00 sharp on Fight Day. There they chatted and exchanged poetry for 45 minutes at which time Johnny became concerned that he was taking up too much of Ali’s fight preparation time. Ali said that their time together helped to relax him.
After Ali won the fight, his manager invited our entire group back to the dressing room to congratulate Ali. What an incredible experience!
We then left the building to find our limos to go back to the airport, but they never showed up. I had noticed that there were several city buses sitting empty to take the fight patrons back to downtown. As long as the fight crowd had dispersed and there were no taxis available I offered $100 to the driver of one of the empty buses to take us back to the plane, so we could avoid being stranded.
I think both Johnny and Ali even had a deeper respect for each other after that day in New Orleans.
Manager, Johnny Cash 1973-2003