Reuniting with Muhammad Ali many years later

This is one of the stories in our Story-Gems project, a collection of our experiences with our Guru, Sri Chinmoy. Project homepage »

So it happened that many, many, many years later, Muhammed Ali was retired and he had Parkinson's disease. For whatever reason, I decided to pick up a copy of The Village Voice. I opened the newspaper and right in the middle was this big advertisement for a movie—actually, more like a documentary—about a fight that Muhammad Ali had in Zaire, Africa: When we were Kings.

There was a raffle for tickets to the premiere and to have a photo opportunity with Muhammad Ali. I called the number and won the raffle! I was going to get to go to the premiere and also see Muhammad Ali one more time. Guru was so happy when I told him. He was so, so happy.


I took some flowers and a book and a Transcendental. My turn to see him came. It was going to be really fast: You go in, you stand next to him, they take your picture and you go out; you don't talk to him; you do nothing.

When I walked into the room where he was, it was very shocking to me because my memory of Muhammad Ali was this super bright and luminous and full-of-energy man. But when I saw him, his eyes were vacant, like nobody was there. It was very shocking and sad to see. When I got close to him and stood next to him, I said, “Muhammad, please look at me. Please look at me.”

He looked at me and I said, “Do you remember me?” He said, “No, tell me from where?” “Puerto Rico. I was the boy who introduced you to Sri Chinmoy.” I showed him a picture of the meeting. His face lit up, and for that moment, he was the Muhammad Ali I knew. “Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy, Sri Chinmoy! How is he doing?”

I told him that Sri Chinmoy was very happy I was going to meet him again. I said, “He would like to see you.”

Then he says to me: “I am a Muslim; he is a Hindu.” I said, “No, no, no, he is your brother. You are his brother. There is no Hindu, no Muslim. You are two brothers.” He said, “Yes, yes, yes, I want to meet him.” I went back out.

Later on, Guru met him again two or three times and eventually lifted him.

Sri Chinmoy and Muhammad Ali, 2003


Physical brothers  
Appear and disappear,  
But spiritual brothers  
Follow the path  
Of eternal friends.  

Sri Chinmoy 1