Bud Grant met Muhammad Ali, didn’t like his style


Bud Grant briefly met Muhammad Ali in the late ’60s, and was left with a negative impression of the legendary fighter.

Tributes are pouring in from the sports community after the death of legendary boxer and cultural icon Muhammad Ali. While most of the remembrances have been positive, a few folks have been willing to speak out in a negative way about Ali and his brash, self-promoting personal style.

One of those who wasn’t particularly impressed with the way Ali comported himself? Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant.

The 89-year-old Grant told Pioneer-Press reporter Chris Tomasson about his meeting with Ali before a fight at the Astrodome in 1967, describing how everyone lined up to meet the fighter and all he wanted to do was tell everyone how great he was:

"“I met him and we shook hands and then he went on to the next guy. … He was self-absorbed and self-interested. It was, ‘I, I, I, I.’ He went into tirades about how great he was.”"

Grant says he admired Ali’s fighting skill but didn’t like the way he played to reporters and the crowd, dismissing Ali’s famed persona as the antics of a “showman.” The former Vikings coach says he was a much bigger fan of the “blue-collar” Joe Frazier, a fighter with whom Ali staged three epic battles in the 1970s.

Knowing what we know about Bud Grant and the way he went about his business, is it any surprise that he would be put off by Ali’s in-your-face, trash-talking style?

Grant must absolutely want to vomit in his hat when he sees people like Cam Newton out there celebrating and talking smack. Muhammad Ali was the guy who paved the way for folks like Newton.

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I suppose there are some who would try to turn this into a racial thing but to me it’s 100% generational. Bud Grant was not the only member of his generation who didn’t care for Ali’s style, but definitely admired his boxing acumen. The fact that Grant all these years later has still not changed his position on Ali’s style tells you everything you need to know about Bud Grant.

You may not agree with Grant’s take on Ali, but you have to give him props for honesty. Bud Grant’s world is a no-BS zone. It was that way in 1967 when one night Ali rubbed him the wrong way, and it’s that way now.