Former World Champion Heavyweight Boxer, Muhammad Ali, has just completed his first visit to the Soviet Union.
Former World Champion Heavyweight Boxer, Muhammad Ali, has just completed his first visit to the Soviet Union. Ali flew home to the United States last Wednesday (21 June) after a 12-day stay, during which he visited Moscow and the central Asian cities of Samarkand and Tashkent.
SYNOPSIS: Ali was accompanied by his third wife Veronica and they celebrated their first wedding anniversary during the visit.
For Ali, a highlight of the trip was a half-hour meeting with Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev at the Kremlin. The American boxer and his wife took the opportunity to sightsee round the Kremlin grounds and the adjacent Red Square. As Soviet television cameras filmed their stroll, the couple in turn photographed the famous features of the city.
For the Soviet public, the undoubted treat of Ali's 12-day stay was a session of exhibition bouts at the Moscow Palace of Sport. Before coming into the ring, Ali claimed he was overweight and out of condition, but he nonetheless delighted the capacity crowd of 3,000 with a display of his now famous tactics.
Cosmonaut Georgy Beregovoi was among the Soviet celebrities who came in person, and Mr. Brezhnev was reported to be watching the bouts on television. Former overall Soviet champion Pyotr Zayev eagerly sparred with Ali, who later claimed that his bout with the 24-year-old was tough. Zayev stalked Ali to shouts from the crowd to hit the American "at least once". Zayev obliged with a solid punch to Ali's head, but the visitor swiftly repaid the blow.