Golf icon Jack Nicklaus enjoyed some playful sparring with boxing legend Muhammad Ali

  • Tom Ward
Jack Nicklaus and Muhammad Ali

Jack Nicklaus revealed Muhammad Ali features in one of his all-time favourite photos after being awarded the Ali Legacy Award at the Sportsperson of the Year dinner in 2015.

The golf icon, 82, was honoured by Sports Illustrated for a lifetime of success and influence as one of the greatest golfers of all time.

And during his acceptance speech SI showed a photo of Nicklaus at the PGA Championships in Valhalla in 1996, in which the boxing legend can also be seen standing in front of him with his fists raised.

The American spoke highly of his fellow countryman as he cracked a smile while sharing the story of how that picture came about.

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He said: “My walls at home are not reserved for plaques and trophies but for photos of my kids and grandkids.

“But I must confess there’s one special photo in my office and that is of Muhammad Ali and me playfully sparring at the PGA Championships in 1996 at his hometown of Louisville and I promise you it was playful!

“It’s one of my favourite pictures.”

WATCH: Jack Nicklaus joked he enjoyed some playful sparring with Muhammad Ali

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Nicklaus later recalled the same story a year later as he paid tribute to his friend after he passed away in 2016 at the age of 74.

He released a statement which read: “It is an understatement to say that the hearts of the sports world are heavy with the loss of Muhammad Ali. He transcended not only the sport of boxing, but sports in general.

“He long ago established a legacy that crossed any boundaries of competition or the borders of just our country. He was a global icon.

“I was incredibly honoured and humbled to receive an award in December bearing his name.

“That night I told a story about how the walls in my home are not for plaques and trophies, but rather for photos of my kids and grandkids.

Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali is widely regarded as the best boxer of all time

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“Yet there is one special photo in my office, and that is of Muhammad and me playfully sparring at the PGA Championship in 1996 at Valhalla in his hometown of Louisville.

“I have always been a great fan of Muhammad, because I admired the champion he was in the ring and the champion he became out of the ring for so many causes.

“I hope on a day when we mourn the loss of the Champ – the ‘greatest of all time’ – we can reflect and appreciate his many contributions past and present, and ensure that generations going forward will admire and be inspired by all that Muhammad Ali accomplished.”

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