Viv Richards recalls memorable first meeting with Muhammad Ali in a Lahore hotel

Batting great still treasures the memory of the fleeting encounter with one of his role models

Viv Richards recalls memorable first meeting with Muhammad Ali in a Lahore hotel PHOTO: Twitter

West Indies batting great Sir Vivian Richards recalled a memorable incident in a Lahore hotel during the 1980s, when he met one of his role models and boxing legend late Muhammad Ali for the first time.

While speaking in a podcast with former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson, Richards said he still treasures the memory of the fleeting encounter, during which Ali thought he looked like one of his arch-rivals Joe Frazier.

 “I remember we were in Pakistan at the same time with the West Indies in the 80s. I think he [Muhammad Ali] was banned from boxing because of his refusal to fight the American war in Vietnam and the Muslim League had invited him to Pakistan to do some tours around,” said Richards.

“We were in a hotel in Lahore and he was coming towards the lift at the same time when we were outside there. Those days I had a beard and a fro. As he came on to the lift, I remember he looked at me and said ‘Hey man, you look like Smokin’ Joe’. Man, my heart sort of stopped beating. It was such a great feeling to meet the idol that you have such enormous amount of respect for,” he added with utmost excitement.

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The 68-year-old also revealed the reason behind not wearing a helmet, despite facing some of the most fearsome pace bowlers of all time.

"The passion for the game I felt was such that I wouldn't mind dying playing something that I love. If this is what I chose and I go down here, what better way is there to go," he said.

The Windies legend was also inspired by athletes from other sports, which made him persist with his fearless approach.

 "I have looked at other sportsmen and women who I have a lot of respect for doing it to an extreme level. I see a guy driving a Formula 1 racing car, what could be more dangerous than that?" he said.

Richards, who represented West Indies in 121 Tests and 187 One-day Internationals (ODIs), is still considered one of the greatest batsmen to have played the game.