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Jerry Earl Johnston: The lives two Ali's — so different, so alike

Published: Friday, Feb. 3 2012 2:19 p.m. MST

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow takes a knee.

Jim Rogash, Getty Images

You've read a "Tale of Two Cities."

How about a "Tale of Two Ali's?"

Your Muhammad Ali came from Louisville, Ky., where he learned to box.

My Muhammad Ali — Taha Muhammad Ali — came from Galilee, where he learned to write.

Yours was poetry in motion.

Mine was emotion in poetry.

Your Muhammad Ali used his hands to earn a living in the ring.

Mine used his hands to earn a living selling Christian souvenirs to pilgrims in Nazareth.

Your Muhammad Ali floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee.

Mine, too.

Yours objected to war.

So did mine.

Yours recently had a birthday.

Mine, a funeral.

Yours had a heart like a tiger.

Ditto.

Your Muhammad Ali came from humble beginnings, but through hard work, talent and faith in God became a master.

My Muhammad Ali did the same.

When asked to sum up the lessons he had gleaned from life, your Muhammad Ali said: "I believe in myself, and I believe in the goodness of others."

When asked, my Muhammad Ali wrote a poem called "Twigs" that reads, in part:

And so

it has taken me

all of sixty years

to understand

that water is the finest drink

and bread the most delicious food,

and that art is worthless

unless it plants

a measure of splendor in people's hearts.

Two Ali's.

Completely unique.

So alike.

EMAIL: jerjohn@desnews.com

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