EXCLUSIVE: Boxer Antonio 'Magic Man' Tarver Remembers Muhammad Ali at Guys' Choice Awards: 'He Was Bigger Than
By Lynda Brendish
Former world boxing champion Antonio 'Magic Man' Tarver opened up to ET about his memories of Muhammad Ali and the impact he made at the 10th Annual Spike TV Guys' Choice Awards in Culver City, California on Saturday night.
Tarver, a friend of the Ali family, remembered the iconic boxer as a great man who touched the lives of many people. "It's inevitable that he lives forever. He was bigger than life. I think he's bigger than death as well," he told ET's Katie Krause. "There's no words to express how the boxing community has been affected by the loss of the great Muhammad Ali. But I know Ali and he would want us to celebrate his life like everyone has been doing."
The 47-year-old recalled being at the opening ceremony of the 1996 Olympic Games and watching Ali light the torch. "Walking that track and watching [Ali] get up there and light that torch was unbelievable," he remembered. "I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Because no one knew who was going to light the torch but it was only one person truly deserving of it and it was Ali."
The biggest impact Ali had on the younger boxing champ, however, was confidence. "It's OK to believe in yourself even if you're the only one. He showed everyone only what he could see. That was the beauty of Ali," Tarver said.
"Every fighter that steps in that ring has a little bit of Ali in 'em. Trust me."
Former NFL-pro Terry Crews, who was also attending the awards show, told ET that Ali made a similar impact on him. "When you talk about realizing your own greatness, he made every person on earth realize that they could be great. Just by being the best person they could be. I get a little choked up thinking about it," he said.
"I'm still absorbing it and it's really hard but Muhammad Ali was an inspiration to every person on Earth. It's beyond sports, it's beyond entertainment. He's right up there with Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. to me."
Mixed martial arts champ Tito Ortiz, dressed in all-black to pay his respects to Ali, remembered first meeting the boxing great in 2001. "I got to throw a jab at him and he threw a jab at me. And I took a picture of it. It's just one of those pictures that I'll remember forever," he told ET.
Ortiz also recalled what an inspiration Ali was for him, as well as to others. "He's done great things for the United States of America in general and the African American people here," he said.