Brock Lesnar is one of those athletes who never seems all that impressed when meeting other stars or luminaries, but when he met Muhammad Ali, the former UFC heavyweight champion was taken back.
As the world remembers Ali on the day of his funeral in Louisville, KY, Lesnar spoke recently about the one time he met the former champion.
Lesnar said that at the point when he met Ali he was already suffering from his bout with Parkinson’s disease, but without even saying a word, “the greatest of all time” had a tremendous impact on the UFC and WWE superstar.
“I got to meet Ali one time,” Lesnar told ESPN recently. “Alls I remember when I met and shook the man’s hand was, he never talked, at that point Parkinson’s, the illness had taken over, but I just remember when he extended his hand and he didn’t have to say anything. It was such a gracious handshake and it was just a very, I can’t even put a word to it. I felt something powerful from the man.
“I’ve watched pretty much all of his fights but I met the man one time and he never spoke a word to me, but I felt the presence and power from him.”
Lesnar, who has worked in both professional wrestling and mixed martial arts for years, understood the value that Ali brought with his mouth and his fists.
Ali was known as one of the most prolific trash talkers outside of the ring, but he was also a ferocious competitor, who backed up every one of his words when he finally faced an opponent. It’s a quality that stuck with Lesnar throughout his own career.
“Here’s a guy who’s a boxer, who is selling tickets talking the talk and getting in the ring and walking the walk. He set the stage,” Lesnar said. “It’s big business. You’ve got to be flashy on the outside and flashy on the inside. It’s a tragedy. My heart goes out to the family. To live with Parkinson’s for how many years. Very difficult and that’s just a battle in itself — forget how great of a champion he was. The man had to live with Parkinson’s for how many years? That’s a feat in its own.”
Lesnar would never compare what he does on a daily basis to what Ali did throughout his entire career, but he hopes that one day he can have the same kind of impact on a person as the one time he met the former champion.
Lesnar has never been the kind of fighter to care much about legacy or how many titles he can hang on the wall. Instead, Lesnar prefers to have an individual impact like Ali had on him with just a shake of the hands and without saying a single word.
“Somewhere along the line I think, maybe somewhere down the line, if I shake a young man’s hand and have the same impact that Muhammad Ali had on me, words can’t describe,” Lesnar said. “I can’t sit here and talk about legacy. I don’t even know what that is.
“My legacy is whatever people want it to be. Alls I know is I have to get up everyday and look at myself in the mirror, be the man I need to be for myself, for my family, and God and that’s it. I think that people that live on legacy are very shallow in the soul. I’m not. I’m always moving forward. So that’s where I’m at with my life.”