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Muhammad Ali's life and legacy: What do they mean to you?

In this Feb. 25, 1964, file photo, Muhammad

In this Feb. 25, 1964, file photo, Muhammad Ali, or Cassius Clay at the time, strikes a familiar pose as he shouts "I am the greatest," as he leaves the ring, arms raised, following his defeat of former heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston, in Miami Beach, Fla. Credit: AP

As Muhammad Ali is laid to rest this week, we're compiling Long Islanders' thoughts on how they'll remember the boxing legend and humanitarian. You can enter your story using the form at the bottom of this page.

In 1992, a friend of mine and I were walking out of a matinee movie showing of 'X' -- the Spike Lee biography of Malcolm X -- in Manhattan on 34th Street and 3rd Avenue. Just outside the theater on the curb stood a tall black man. My friend said "Look it's Muhammad Ali." "Yeah right," was my reply. Sure enough however, standing there all by himself in broad daylight was Ali just minding his own business. At first I was not sure what to do. Then I figured "What the heck." I walked right up to him. He looked down at me with no expression. For a couple of uncomfortable seconds I was tongue tied. I then pointed my finger up at him and said "You're still the greatest." He laughed. Naturally by then more people noticed him and a crowd began to ensue. He turned down requests for autographs. I then found myself in the middle of a growing throng shouting "Ali, Ali!" Moments later a stretch white limo drove up behind him. A couple of no-nonsense men ushered him into the car. That was my encounter with a man who was truly larger than life.

-Nick Santora, 60, of Rosyln Heights

I made the first bet of my life on the first meeting of Sonny Liston vs. Cassius Clay. I bet on Liston while my friend, Benjamin, took Clay (better known as Muhammad Ali). It was 1964, I was 11 years old, and I learned two important lessons. The first was never to bet against Muhammad Ali, and the second lesson was to never bet again! Thank you Muhammad Ali for teaching me two valuable lessons at a young age.

-Norman Rund, 63, of Coram

Aside from a great Boxing Champion from the wonder years of my youth, I will always remember Muhammed Ali for his mission of mercy to secure the freedom of a group of American citizens from Saddam Hussein's Iraq back in 1990 prior to the beginning of the Persian Gulf War. I feel Ali always went out of his way to demonstrate his humanity whenever he could, and that speaks volumes of him as a man and will long outweigh his great accomplishments in the ring.

-Matthew Donnelly, 52, of New Hyde Park

I will always be grateful to Muhammad Ali for my favorite bonding experience with my dad, which was watching boxing on TV with him. Ali was hands down our favorite fighter to watch and marvel at how amazing he was in the ring. The Ali-Frazier trifecta and Foreman fights stand out among our favorites.

-Sandro Scenga, of Westbury


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