The Third Leader: Name of the game

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The Independent Online

Some, of course, will react with sadness to the news that Muhammad Ali has sold his name. They will recall how important that name was to the man and his myth, how it reflected a determination to do what he thought right which was as dogged as his art was mercurial.

They might recall, too, the beating Ernie Terrell took in the ring for refusing to use it, insisting on the former name, the slave name. "What's my name?" shouted Ali, between hammer blows. I thought this rather ungentlemanly at the time, but I was young, and not black and not from Kentucky, and as the Greatest himself has said: "A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life."

So I wouldn't presume to judge him now, or his claim that the £30m marketing deal for his name and likeness will guarantee universal understanding of his beliefs and purpose. I do like to think, though, that there's still a bit of the old mischief, pride and bamboozle going on. "Get used to me," he once said. "Black, confident, cocky. My name, not yours. My religion, not yours. My goals, my own. Get used to me."

All of which, I hope, explains why I am today proud to follow Ali's example and offer for sale, with similar restrictions on taste, the good name of The Third Leader. Muhammad's agents, I see, are eschewing coffee cups, which could be especially good (possible tag lines, "The Third Leader - You've got to Laugh!", or, "The Third Leader - Stings like a Butterfly."). Call me.