Dr. Bernie Miller remembers his meeting with Ali
Dr. Bernie Miller, Senior Pastor at New Covenant Fellowship Church says he was working with Sony CBS Records in the late 80s when he was offered the chance to meet the greatest of all time.
“He says, ‘Look Mohammed is going to be in town. Do you have time to meet with him? I said, ‘For sure? I mean are you kidding me?’ I said, ‘He’s the champ who wouldn’t meet with him?'”
Miller says his conversation with Ali that day is one he will never forget, and by the end of it, he discovered they shared something in common. The same birthday month.
“And so he said, “‘Have you ever been to a heavyweight fight?’ I said ‘I haven’t been to a lightweight fight,’ he said, ‘Well I’ve got a fight that I want to invite you to,’ I said ,’Really?’ he said, ‘Yeah I want you to be my VIP guest,’ and I said, ‘For sure?’ he said, ‘Absolutely it’d be my birthday present to you.'”
“It was so close, you know, the sweat was poppin’ on my shirt. Hahahaha, isn’t that something?”
To this day, Miller has several priceless items to remember the boxing champion by.
But it was Ali’s fight outside of the ring in 1967 that Miller says made the athlete a real champion in his eyes.
“During that period of time he put everything on the line. He put his career on the line, and he said no I’m not going to do that it’s against my principles.”
That year Ali was band from boxing for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War for religious reasons.
“And it sent shockwaves through society because people were saying who are you. And it went all the way to the Supreme Court and of course he won and when he won we were all celebrating because here is a black man who stood up to society and said oh no I’m saying no to this.”
Throughout his career, Miller has worked with several legendary icons who’ve since passed away like Luther Vandross, and Michael Jackson, and now he’s saying farewell to another.
“He was the greatest I mean not only in the ring but also as a person great to be around personable generous accessible and a friend.”‘