Ali knew I was hurt and he backed off. It was obvious that he could have knocked me out with a single punch. Instead, he put an arm around my shoulders, we exchanged hugs and smiles, and it was over.
But in two seconds I had accomplished the one thing I had longed to do since that day I first saw him when I was 10 years old. I had hit The Legend, Muhammad Ali, and as we left the ring he spoke to me from a place deep in his abdomen, in a way no man had ever spoken to me before—softly, gently, almost purring, "Hey, you're not as dumb as you look. You're fast—and you sure can hit to be so little."
He may as well have said he was adopting me.
I began to shake. My insides danced to get out. But I managed to stay composed long enough to say the one thing I hoped would (and which seemed to) impress him most. With the absolute confidence I had learned from watching him on television and hearing him on the radio countless times, I said simply, "I know."