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Giasuddin, Halim mourn Ali, remember his 1978 visit to Dhaka

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06th-Jun-2016       
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Ali passed away at the age of 74 on Friday after long spell of Parkinson's syndrome. He died in a hospital after being admitted with respiratory complications a day ago.
Giasuddin and Halim recalled those cherished moments after learning of Ali's death.
In 1978, a foreign organisation had arranged a five-day visit by Ali to a fledgling Bangladesh.
Once here on Feb 18, the former world heavyweight boxing champion had visited tea gardens in Sylhet, the beaches of Cox's Bazar, Chittagong, and went boating.
Ali also stepped into the ring for an exhibition boxing match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium (then Dhaka Stadium).
In the ring, he used his inimitable showmanship to enthral the people of Bangladesh, who have a special place for him in their hearts even today.
His youthful proclamation that he is 'the greatest' rings true for the people of Bangladesh as for millions across the world.
Ali was supposed to face Halim, winner of a bronze medal in the 1977 Asian Boxing Championship in Indonesia's Jakarta. It was Bangladesh's first international award after Liberation in 1971.
But Ali asked for someone younger than Halim, who was 23 years old then.
"I was a bubbling youth then. I couldn't believe my own eyes when I saw Ali. I was confused - am I really speaking to the world champion boxer? Will I be fighting him?" Halim recalled at the boxing stadium named after Ali in Paltan on Saturday.
"I was supposed to be in the ring with him, but he said - 'I won't fight with someone so mature; send someone younger. I just want to have some fun' - Gias was then brought up," Halim recalled.
Halim, however, had the pleasure of taking a photo with Ali.
"Gias knocked Ali down with a blow - it was Ali's theatricals. He truly knew how to please a child and the public. He sealed his place in the hearts of people by being knocked down in the ring in such way," Halim said.
"He took a photo with me. Even the photo journalists revelled at his jokes, as he took a fist near his face and asked them to take the snap."
"Stepping into the ring with him (Ali) is the greatest achievement of my life. People will be born and will die someday, I know that. But I just can't get over it - he is no more. The world won't see another boxer like him again," Giasuddin said.
Although Ali was looking for some fun, Giasuddin was very serious about the contest. But he later realised why Ali fell after the blow.
"I was the junior champion then. I played three rounds with him. I still remember the day - I was just 12 years old.
"He was a boxing legend…fighting against him was an exceptional event in my life. I was delighted, these feelings are hard to express in words."
"He fell down after taking a punch from me. He did this for fun - it was so amusing. He actually did this to entertain the people."
In those five days, Giasuddin and Halim could not get in touch with Ali again, for he was too busy travelling.
But for Giasuddin, those 12 minutes of the match and for Halim, those minutes of taking photo, stood out as the best moments of their lives.

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