Soon after Muhammed Ali first retired, he came to Colby College in Waterville to speak to students In March 1970.

The boxing champion spoke to a large crowd of students about his business ventures, said Robert W. Fowles, of Auburn, in a phone interview Saturday.

Fowles, a reporter and photographer for the Morning Sentinel at the time, wasn’t there on assignment. The newspaper wasn’t covering the event.

Fowles, who worked at the Sentinel for 43 years, had seen Ali before, at his 1965 rematch with Sonny Liston in Lewiston, when Ali had just changed his name from Cassius Clay.

“It wasn’t common for him to come to these small places,” he said. “I just thought he was an important sports figure.”

Fowles recalled that Ali was receiving a lot of criticism at the time for having refused to report for military duty during the Vietnam War.

Fowles took the night off work and went to photograph Ali. Fowles said his photos and article made it into the paper.

Fowles also got to shake Ali’s hand at Colby.

“Boy, what a mitt,” he said. “His hand was three times the size of mine.”

The Colby International Club, Fowles believes, asked Ali to come to the college to speak.

Ali talked about the fast-food chain he wanted to model after McDonald’s and market to African-Americans, Fowles remembered.

“He was a great speaker,” said Fowles, now retired for 15 years. “It was a great pleasure to be there.”

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.