‘e never was the ‘Eavyweight Champion of the World.
But then if ‘e ‘ad been, perhaps we wouldn’t have taken ‘im to our ‘earts the way we did.
(We’re funny like that, we British.)
But he did put Cassius Clay – the young Mohammed Ali – on his backside back in ’63.
And it’s a select band of men who could say that.
Ali later said: “He hit me SO hard that not only did he shake me, he shook my ancestors back in Africa.”
Ali paid tribute today – as only one old gladiator can pay to another:
“I am at a loss for words over the death of my friend.
Henry always had a smile for me; a warm and embracing smile. It was always a pleasure being in Henry’s company.
I will miss my old friend. He was a great fighter and a gentleman.”
For our part, we add this: ‘e was a class act, ‘e was of the old school, and for as long as men talk of such things, we’ll remember that night in ’63 as if we were ALL there.
‘e was never the ‘Eavyweight Champion of the World…
But ‘e was Our ‘Enry.
Sir Henry Cooper 3rd May 1934 – 1st May 2011