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"One day, when we were all in our early 30s, Martin Luther King Jr. said to our little ragtag bunch, 'Everybody here has got to be clinically insane to think that with no money, no political power, no army, no nothing, we are going to redeem the soul of America.' And then, he said, 'We’ll be lucky to make it to 40. But if we make it past 40, we’re going to have to make it to 100 because this is not an easy job. It’ll take more than our lifetimes to get it right.' Well, I think that planted it in my mind, especially after he was killed, that I had to make it to 100."
The notion that Muhammad Ali—a conscientious objector who was a member of the Nation of Islam—would make his comeback in the deep South at the height of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War seemed laugh-out-loud ridiculous. But thanks to one fortuitous telephone call to a local businessman—and the political savvy of State Senator Leroy Johnson—Atlanta stunned the world by granting Ali a boxing license and playing host to his return on October 26, 1970.