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Ali–you can say a lot of simple things about him, but two stand out: when I was a kid in middle school in southern California and bullied quite a bit by neighborhood toughs, I watched Ali and learned one very important thing: circle your opponent dancingly, so most of his puches fly behind you, which really did work in schoolyard fights, and–much more importantly, and was something I simply couldn’t do–throw the left jab, normally a stopgap punch that just slowed and fatigued the other guy, like a brick in a glove–something unteachable and brutal and tremendously, casually effective. If you could throw a simple jab and demolish people with it, you could not lose. He floated, danced, threw a lot of jabs that hit like bricks in gloves, and when he got angry he was the most beautiful, clinically destructive boxer who ever lived. We will miss him.

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