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Watch Prince Call Muhammad Ali His ‘Hero’ During 1997 Press Conference

Twitter @MuhammadAli
Twitter @MuhammadAli

Very few who walk this earth are labeled true icons in their lifetime. In the span of less than two months, we lost two of them in succession: Prince, who passed on April 21, and Muhammad Ali, who passed on June 3.

During 1997, the two famous men met for the first time during a press conference to promote a charity event. And as it turns out, the legendary musician and the great sports star were not merely two titanic ships passing in the night — Prince, in fact, was a huge fan of the boxing champion, so much so that he considered him his “hero.”

While sitting next to Ali at the Washington, D.C. panel, the “Purple Rain” singer recounted his excitement at the opportunity to work alongside the renowned human rights activist and World Heavyweight Champion.

“My friend…called me a couple days ago and asked me, he said, ‘Muhammad wants you to-‘ and I said yes. I didn’t let him finish,” Prince shared, laughing. “He could have said ‘mow the lawn’ and I would have been down with it.”

With Ali looking on, he added, “Muhammad’s my hero. He has been since I was a child.”

He wasn’t exaggerating: In 2014, the musician told Essence magazine that the athlete influenced his perspective on using profanity in his otherwise famously scandalous music.

“We need to treat [all people] like royalty,” he said in the interview. “Did you ever hear Muhammad Ali curse? Would you curse in front of your kids or to your mother?”

The adoration was mutual: On April 22, a day after Prince died, Ali shared his heartache on Twitter, posting a photo of him embracing his friend — a photo that was taken at the very same conference almost 20 years ago.

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