WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Warren family remembers Muhammad Ali by recalling a chance encounter they had with the legendary boxer over 30 years ago.
In 1982, Sheldon Sparks and his mother flew out to California to visit his brother.
“We got to the gate and the security guard, he came to the gate and stopped us and asked us what did we want? Well, we want to see Muhammad Ali,” he said.
They were not going to leave without trying to meet him.
“When my mom wanted to see something or do something, she always did it,” Dorlette Sparks said.
It was a little lie about who they were related to that sealed the deal.
“My brother told him we were some kin to Ernie Shavers, and that’s somebody who Muhammad Ali fought, and Muhammad Ali said, ‘Send them in,'” Sheldon said.
From there, he says Ali did everything he could to entertain them, including magic tricks.
“A boxer doing magic tricks! I mean, it was awesome some of the things he was doing, pulling a hanky out of his hand and stuff like that.”
The photos almost didn’t happen at all.
“I had one film left in my camera and my battery went dead,” Sparks said. “My mom had a camera, sort of the same kind of camera, so I took the film out of my camera and put it in her camera, and I got these pictures. I’ll keep these forever.”
“I forgot the picture even existed until my nephew put it on Facebook,” Dorlette said.
The few photos from that day that were almost forgotten are now the center of attention.
First News will be live streaming Muhammad Ali’s funeral on Friday starting at 9 a.m. on WKBN.com.