Tiger Woods and Muhammad Ali are two of the biggest icons in the history of sports. But did you know that the five-time Masters champion once almost took a swing at the former three-time heavyweight champion of the world?
Tiger Woods enjoyed Muhammad Ali’s company
As one of the most popular athletes of all time, one might think that Tiger Woods would have plenty of signed memorabilia from some other iconic figures, especially seeing as how he’s gotten the chance over the years to pal around with some of the biggest names in sports history such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Muhammad Ali.
But when once asked if he had any signed memorabilia from these guys, he said things like that didn’t matter to him. He just enjoyed their company. He was great friends with Jordan for a long time. Tiger Woods enjoys moments, times such as when he met Ali for the first time around the time of his record-setting victory at The Masters in 1997, which had to have been just epic stuff. Just thinking about the conversations that two guys like that could have had is mind-blowing.
At that time, Tiger was essentially taking the imaginary torch from Jordan that had been passed to him by Ali as the biggest star on the planet. Fascinating. But I’m betting Tiger Woods never thought he’d want to take a swing at “The Greatest.”
The two nearly ‘fought’ in a hotel lobby in 2004
Tiger Woods recently told a hilarious story involving himself and Muhammad Ali at a New York hotel ahead of the 2004 U.S. Open. But at first, Woods didn’t find things so funny. Tiger was in town for a practice round at Shinnecock Hills and was checking into the Hilton when he felt someone hit him in the ribs. Woods told the story in a recent “Golf Digest” interview.
“I’m in line at the front desk, and I get hit in the ribs. My right ribs. And it hurt. And I whip around and think I’m gonna just keel all and hit somebody. I was so pi**ed. I look around, and it’s Muhammad Ali. And he says, ‘Hey, kid.’ And I’m like, why did you have to give me a love tap so hard? He was old, but it still hurt.”Tiger Woods on Muhammad Ali
Perhaps sore ribs were the reason why Tiger Woods finished 14 shots back of winner Retief Goosen at the U.S. Open. But seriously, can you picture this scenario? We all know that Tiger Woods is a very private person given his level of fame. Constantly being hounded for pictures or autographs can’t be fun and getting hit in the ribs while he wasn’t looking had to be quite frightening. So I can imagine how he’d whip around and be looking to deck the person that did it. But then he sees it’s Muhammad Ali? Awesome.
Tiger Woods paid tribute to Muhammad Ali following his death in 2016
Following Muhammad Ali’s death in June 2016, it seemed that everyone on the planet, not just in the sports world, wanted to pay their respects, including Tiger Woods. Woods tweeted out “You’ll always be The Greatest for more than just what you did in the ring. A champion to so many people in so many ways.”
It was quite the touching tribute from one of the many men who took a punch from “The Greatest.”