Saskatchewan

Moose Jaw man remembers meeting Muhammad Ali in his own backyard

Chris Aparicio said Muhammad Ali inspired him at a young age because of the many tribulations he faced as an athlete.

Chris Aparicio: 'Now that he's gone, it's a tremendous loss for the world as a whole'

Chris Aparicio has been inspired by Muhammad Ali from a young age.

At just five years old, Chris Aparicio met his hero, Muhammad Ali. 

The year was 1983. Aparicio's grandfather ran a radio station in Edmonton and hosted a barbecue in their backyard with athletes, including players from the Oilers and a younger Muhammad Ali.

The then five-year-old Aparicio got to meet Ali in the comfort of his backyard, and also had the opportunity to watch one of Ali's matches in person.

"There is a reason that I've got so much memorabilia up on my wall for him," Aparicio said.

Muhammad Ali trains with a speedbag in this undated file photo. He was fast of fist and foot - lip, too - a heavyweight champion who promised to shock the world and did. (File Photo/Boris Spremo/Canadian Press)

​But as talented as Ali was, it was his struggles that inspired Aparicio.

"I came from a little bit of a disability side," he said. "When you look at the trials and tribulations through Ali's whole life, it was one of those things where there are far more people who have far more things against him."  

Aparicio was born with one arm. It was seeing Ali jump hurdles to become the legend he was that taught Aparicio the power of perseverance.

"He is purely iconic. There are few people in the world who carry the kind of impact that Muhammad Ali did. Meeting Muhammed Ali, it's a story that I've told literally thousands of time," he said.

Ali died on Friday at the age of 74.

"Now that he's gone, it's a tremendous loss for the world as a whole."