Joe Maddon was laying in bed late Friday night when he had heard the news that boxing legend Muhammad Ali had passed away at the age of 74.
"If you’re of the age, a part of your childhood is gone, actually," Maddon said on Saturday. "It’s a marker for all of us.”
Ali battled Parkinson’s disease for 32 years.
“It’s an insidious disease,” Maddon said. “You can see how much he suffered."
Maddon recalled some memories of Ali, one being having listened to the radio the first time he fought Sonny Liston.
“Just really a segment of our history that I think will never be repeated,” Maddon said. “I don’t think there’s ever going to be that group of boxers that come back that provide that kind of entertainment, that kind of interest, that kind of charisma and everything else that he had going on.
“It was unique. Very fortunate that we experienced it.”
Maddon, a big boxing fan, grew up in Hazelton, Pa., where Ali would sometimes train. Maddon’s cousins and friends took the opportunity to watch “The Greatest,” but he didn’t tag along.
Maddon did get to witness the legendary boxer live in action during an exhibition match at Harman Geist football stadium in Hazelton.
“I got to see him do his sparring routine,” Maddon said. “I stood close to him during that day when he fought at Harman Geist Stadium. I was near where he walked off, but I never really got to meet him.”
To sum up his legacy in boxing, Maddon implies he really is the greatest of all-time.
"It’s impossible to be better than he was. He truly left his mark.”