NEW YORK — Muhammad Ali took a long walk uptown to Harlem on a recent day and "buses stopped, taxis stopped. Policeman and kids came up to me."
In May, the 43-year-old heard cheers of "Ali, Ali," as he entered the Summer Palace in Peking.
"There's no one like me," he said during an interview.
It was a declaration, stated quietly, matter-of-factly.
"I'll bet it'll be a long time before there's another me," added Ali, who was here to talk about a fan club, "Ali's Allies."
The club has been incorporated as The Muhammad Ali Fan Club, Inc., and it is a non-profit organization. Part of its stated purpose is that "a portion of your membership dues ($10, $25, $50) will be donated to charitable organizations to help the champ continue his most important fight for the benefit of children in need throughout the world."
"I can stay in contact with people; people want to know what I'm doing," said the man who has lived a lifetime of headlines, about his fighting prowess, his private life, and his health.
There was an outpouring of concern when Ali entered a New York hospital last September and was diagnosed as having Parkinson's syndrome, a mild form of the degenerative Parkinson's disease.
Some physicians' groups called for outlawing boxing.
"All the compassion and worry people have over me, I wish they had that for people who are really hurting," Ali said.
During the interview, Ali talked quietly and sometimes his words were slurred. But he looked fairly trim at about 230 pounds, and his face lacked the puffiness it has had over the past few years.
His eyes twinkled when he said, "I'm just a washed-up old bum." He smiled often as he thought about the ups and downs of his life and his boxing career. "The good old days," which he said he no longer misses.
"Nah," Ali said. "I'm more busy now. My intention while boxing was to do today what I'm doing now. Boxing was a way to get here. I think it was worth it."