The Night of the Hurricane benefit concert on December 8, 1975 at Madison Square Garden, where Muhammad Ali visits Bob Dylan backstage, and gives him a gift — a huge boxing glove
I was shadow-boxing earlier in the day
I figured I was ready for Cassius Clay
I said “Fee, fie, fo, fum, Cassius Clay, here I come
26, 27, 28, 29, I’m gonna make your face look just like mine
Five, four, three, two, one, Cassius Clay you’d better run
99, 100, 101, 102, your ma won’t even recognize you
14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, gonna knock him clean right out of his spleen”
on December 8, 1975, it was my turn to see Ali – and Dylan – at Madison Square Garden. I was fortunate to witness (with binoculars) Ali speak at the Rolling Thunder Revue’s “Night Of The Hurricane” concert to benefit imprisoned boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter.
He appeared after Joni Mitchell’s set, introduced by WNJR’s Bill Franklin:
- “There are three types of great in the world. There’s the great, the near great, and the ingrate. Tonight I have ‘The Greatest!’ … “
Ali received a hero’s welcome. It started off well, joking that he expected cheers because he was “The Greatest,” and thanked the “rock and roll” crowd that “had the connection and the complexion to get the protection.” Later, Ali interviewed Carter from prison on the phone. After a while, Ali started to lose the crowd when he brought out a “Mr. Sapier.” When Ali introduced Tennessee attorney and entrepreneur John Jay Hooker as the “next president of the United States,” Ali was booed off the stage.
Later, Dylan joked from the stage, “We’re gonna do this song now for Mr. Albert Grossman. Hello Albert! Who won’t be the next president, don’t even want to be president!”