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KIMUNYONG COLUMN

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Date 16.06.13 Hit 661
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Muhammad Ali's visit to Kukkiwon(June 1976)

Muhammad Ali's visit to Kukkiwon(June 1976)

 

 

1976년 5월 28일 국기원을 방문한 모하메드알리에게 김운용원장이 명예단증 수여.jpg

Muhammad Ali, the greatest passed away at the age of 74. With the death of Ali, who flew like butterfly and shot like bee, the CNN and whole world of media reported his great career all daylong.




1976년 모하메드 알리 국기원 방문(우측부터 엄운규, 준리, 알리, 김운용내외).jpg

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He threw away his gold medal from Rome Olympics in protest against discrimination, Loss of the heavy weight boxing title for refusal of military service opposing Vietnam War, and regaining after five years of struggle; record of 56 wins and only 5 losses with 19 title defense fight, his fight for human right and peace; his life stories and eulogies are endless. Public funeral service will be held in Louiville, Kentucky with Former President Bill Clinton to enlogize. 15000 tickets to admission to the funeral service were sold out right away.



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We vividly remember his surprising visit to the Kukkiwon after Ali-Inoki fight in Tokyo in June 1976. I was the host with logistic support of MBC Broadcasting corporation. I inaugurated WTF only 3 years ago and the most of our Dojang(School) abroad was in name of Karate as Taekwondo was unknown martial art and not yet globalized. It was days when few VIPs or celebrities visited Seoul. His visit attracted nationwide attention since it was right after Inoki-Ali fight in Tokyo with worldwide exposure.
Plancard "Welcome Mohammad Ali, the Greatest" was hoisted at top of Kukkiwon Gate. Taekwondo demonstration was presented in his honor amidst fully packed crowd. I presented him with honorary Taekwondo blackbelt and uniform. He was humorous. He said he made 6 million dollars by throwing only two punches.



Next day, we visited 2nd US infantry Division and Ali boxed with soldiers at the ring. Next day, I hosted a luncheon at Shilla Hotel inviting US Ambassador Snider, 8th US Army Commander General Stillwell and Ali's wife and 30 some etourage. He was amiable, kind, humble and humorous, and he talked well. He signed his autograph on menu card for my son and 2 daughters respectively in memory.



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Afterwards, I met him once at a New York Hotel. He surprised the whole world by appearing as the last torch bearer of 1996 Atlanta Olympics at its Opening Ceremony. He was suffering from Parkinson and his hand was trembling. At 1996 Atlanta Olympic, major victory ceremonies were shared by IOC President Samaranch and 1st Vice President UnYong KIM. Original plan was for Samaranch to go to Soccer final at Athens, GA and I were to present medals to basketball. However, plan was changed upon strong request of AIBA. I flew to Athens to present medals with FIFA President Hawelange who was not so happy with my appearance instead of Samaranch. Later, I heard Samaranch presented  Gold medal to US Team composed of NBA players and restored Gold medal to Muhammad Ali.

President Obama eulogized : Muhammad Ali fought all his life for us and now he is raised to the level of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. We pay the highest tribute to Muhammad Ali. His visit to Kukkiwon 40 years ago, and presentation of Honorary Taekwondo blackbelt and our connection will be long cherished in our heart. We pay respects to legendary sportsman Muhamad Ali for his peaceful and eternal rest.
    

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