NEW YORK — “I’m no longer a heavyweight. I’m lightweight. I’ve changed my class now to lightweight but with the muscle of a heavyweight and with the brain of an extra heavyweight like Ali,” said Jean-Claude Biver, chief executive officer of Tag Heuer.
The Swiss watch brand held a tribute to the late boxer this week in Brooklyn at Gleason’s Gym, which is where Muhammad Ali and a host of other boxers trained.
Some of those boxers, along with his widow Lonnie Ali and Iris Apfel, were in attendance Wednesday night to honor Ali and offer up stories about the legendary athlete.
“It wasn’t a whole lot of fun,” said boxer George Chuvalo of his matches with Ali. “But it was a fight I’ll always remember. He was hard to hurt and hard to catch with a punch.”
Boxer Julio Cesar Chavez, who spoke via a translator, recalled the time his son, Julio César Chávez Jr., peed on Ali, who then predicted he would be a world champion like him. The prediction came true.
The New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, who met Ali before he died, detailed what the boxer meant to him. “He was an incredible athlete,” said Brady. “What he did in the ring and what he did outside of the ring, no one has done before.”
The night ended with an auction of items that ranged from Ali paraphernalia along with a commemorative gold timepiece from Tag Heuer to tickets to boxing matches. Proceeds from each item went to the Muhammad Ali Center, which is based in Louisville, Ken.