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Ali The Negotiator

Written by: George Chittenden : 28 Feb 2020

This interesting photo was taken on Jan 19th, 1981, when boxing superstar Muhammad Ali talked a man down from jumping from a high-rise building. This unbelievable story is completely true. The photo was taken by Los Angeles Times photographer Boris Yaro who rushed to the scene after hearing reports of a suicide jumper on the radio. The poor man who was at wits end had been up there for several hours before this picture was taken. According to a police spokesman he seemed to think he was in Vietnam, with the Viet Cong coming at him.

Also at the scene was Howard Bingham, who was a close friend of Ali. Bingham phoned Ali who lived nearby and the boxer arrived in his Rolls-Royce. Entering the building Ali leant out of a window and began to talk to the ‘Jumper’ who was named ‘Joe’ in newspaper reports that followed this incident. Exactly what was said, we’ll never know for sure, but according to the Los Angeles Times’s account, Ali shouted “You’re my brother! I love you, and I couldn’t lie to you.”

This story has a nice ending, and Ali eventually managed to approach ‘Joe’ and put an arm around him before leading him inside. The unlikely pair walked out of the building together and climbed into Ali’s Rolls-Royce, and after a brief stop at a police station, the boxer took ‘Joe’ to the nearby V.A. hospital.

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