Cal Fussman, Esquire’s writer-at-large, has interviewed some of the most influential figures of our time: Mikhail Gorbachev, Joe Biden, Barbara Walters, Joe Frazier, and even Donald Trump. But one of his most memorable interviews was his childhood hero, Muhammad Ali.
At the PTTOW! summit in May, Fussman shared the story of the time he spent with Ali and how exactly he enters the soul of the people he interviews.
In 2003, years after his Parkinson’s diagnosis and Ali’s triumphant lighting of the Olympic torch in Atlanta, Fussman spent a few days with Ali for Esquire’s “What I’ve Learned” column. At the time, Ali’s health seemed to be a combination of good days and bad. But despite his physical limitations, Ali’s indomitable personality—and sense of humor—shone through.