Colin Croft on Muhammad Ali

The one, the only

ESPNcricinfo staff
Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee

Ali talked the talk and walked the walk © AFP

I was born in the 1950s; the world was somehow more real back then. In those times we didn't have television; telephones and the radio were our sources for information about what was happening around the world. There were newspapers, and we could read magazines and books, but by the time they reached the Caribbean most of them would be six months old. But despite the fact that there was hardly any media, you would never stop hearing about Muhammad Ali's exploits.

To date Ali is my biggest hero. He didn't only say that he could do things, he did them. A lot of people can't do what they say they can, for two reasons: one, they boast, and two, they take the easy way out. The easy way out is, if I could get the job done by running one mile instead of two, why the hell would I run two? Ali never operated in that fashion.

Ali made his boasts based on his knowledge of himself - he had great self-belief. "I'm the greatest," one of his best one-liners, has stuck with me from the time I was a kid. I saw him fighting live in 1972 in England, and once on a road in London: when I saw him walk out in front of me, I froze.

I like individual sport even though I played a team sport. In individual sport you're on your own and that always attracted me. Ali said and did everything on his own.

As told to Nagraj Gollapudi