Muhammad Ali’s strong connection to NYC will live on, friends say

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DUMBO, Brooklyn — The most famous person in the world owed a big part of that popularity to New York City.

A half dozen of Muhammad Ali's most famous fights took place in New York, and two of his most famous of all time, the Fight of the Century and Super Fight II, both against Joe Frazier in the early 1970's, were held in Madison Square Garden.

Ali also lived in New York in preparation for all of his Big Apple matches. For both matches, he trained at the same gym.

Gleason's, which is now based in Brooklyn, has produced 131 world champions, but the most famous by far is Ali.

Even after he retired from the sport, he made a point to visit Gleason's whenever he was in town.

It's a venue at which supermodels and Wall Street CEOs train.

A steady stream of celebrities and dignitaries have shown up to tour or to train over the decades.

In fact, recently elected Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau came for a training session a few weeks ago.

He's a world media darling, but at Gleason's, he was just another pugilist.

However, Gleason's owner, Bruce Silverglade told PIX11 News, "Muhammad Ali comes in here,  forget it."

He said that every time Ali would visit, "The place would be in an uproar.  Every single person, all the neighbors would want to see him, take a picture of him. He would not say no to anyone."

Silverglade, who was friends with the three-time heavyweight champion of the world, said that while he's sad about Muhammad Ali's passing, "You can't cry about him.  He accomplished more in his lifetime than anyone I know.  He just came out of the slums of Louisville and became the best known, the most popular person in the world."