Musician and songwriter Bill Withers was a longtime friend of Muhammad Ali. Withers met Ali shortly after he was stripped of his boxing title in April 1967 after he refused to serve in the Vietnam War.
In a recent tribute to the late boxer, Withers recounted the time he spent with Ali in 1974 at the Zaire ’74 concert, right before the “Rumble in the Jungle” match between Ali and George Foreman:
“I became involved in Zaire ’74 when Gary Stromberg, who had a PR firm, asked me if I wanted to go to Africa for the fight. It was a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle. In the Kinshasa Hilton were people like [author] Norman Mailer, [journalist] George Plimpton, B.B. King and James Brown—you don’t get those kinds of people in the same space too often. It really showed the magic about Ali. The people in Zaire loved him; they followed him around, and he was running his mouth and going on.”
Withers went on to recall how Ali interacted with people from all walks of life, in Zaire and all around the world:
Source: The Root | YESHA CALLAHAN