Local pastor remembers the time he met 'The Greatest' - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local pastor remembers the time he met 'The Greatest'

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can't hit what the eyes can't see."

Just one of Muhammad Ali's famous sayings, and a phrase used often to describe his style in the ring. 

The man who considered himself "The Greatest", fought in three different decades. Ali finished with a record of 56-5 with 37 knockouts.

Ali was just 42 years old when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1984, three years after the last fight of his legendary career.

After experiencing some respiratory problems earlier this week, the three-time heavyweight champion passed away late Friday night. 

Pastor, Bernie Miller of New Covenant Fellowship Church in Chattanooga. He first met Ali in 1988 and shared his story with Channel 3. 

"I thought that he would be a stuck up on himself kinda guy and found out that this guy is so down to earth. He loves life and he just enjoyed people."

Dr. Miller was Vice President of Artist and Repertoire for Sony-Epic Records when Muhammad visited him in his New York office to talk about an artist he wanted him to sign. 

"He looked on the wall and saw my pictures and everything and he said well when is your birthday and I said in January. He says have you ever been to a heavyweight fight I said I haven't been to anything I would love to go to one. He said why don't you be my VIP guest would you like to do that? I said would I like to be your VIP guest! Of course I would love to be your VIP guest."

Before Dr. Miller could begin to realize what was happening, his childhood idol had bought him a $500 ticket to see Mike Tyson and Larry Holmes fight in the Trump Plaza.

"As we were coming into the reception hall, Donald Trump was there. And he sent one of his security guys over and I overheard their conversation and he said ask his manager if I could have a picture with Muhammad and it was on the front of the New York times sport section"

Whether he was dominating in the ring, winning a Gold Medal, or speaking his mind to the press, the Heavyweight champion was destined to change the world, and he did just that. 

"Muhammad Ali stood up for what he believed in, and even though it meant losing his title, his faith was what he used to carry him through.  This was the end and the closing of the door so to speak and we are sad because of that. But people were able to witness someone who was great like that and be able to meet him as well."

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