In 1981, Muhammad Ali talked a suicidal man off a ledge

In 1981, Muhammad Ali Talked A Suicidal Man Off A Ledge

As the world looks back on Muhammad Ali's life, it's reminded of all the things "The Greatest" was known for outside the ring.

And there's one instance in particular few will forget. In 1981, Ali talked a suicidal man off a ledge, calling him his brother.

SEE ALSO: Muhammad Ali: Celebrities and athletes mourn the boxing legend

As CBS reported, the man had reportedly been on the ledge for several hours, shouting that "he was no good" and that the Viet Cong were coming for him.

A police spokesman said at the time: "Ali did it all. ... He went up there and he talked to the guy until he came down. A police psychologist and a chaplain had tried — but Ali got it done."

Inside and outside of the ring Ali was larger than life. He was the centerpiece for some of the most memorable matches in boxing history.

But it was outside of fighting where Ali drew criticism for his social activism. The day after Ali's fight against Sonny Liston, he announced he had converted to Islam. Back then, he was known by his birth name, Cassius Clay.

Muhammad Ali through the years:

Muhammad Ali through the years
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In 1981, Muhammad Ali talked a suicidal man off a ledge
American boxer and sometime actor Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) as Eric Sevareid interviews him during an episode of the CBS Evening News, New York, March 24, 1964. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 2,1980: Muhammad Ali (L) throws a punch against Larry Holmes during the fight at Caesars Palace, on October 2,1980 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Larry Holmes won the WBC heavyweight title by a RTD 10. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)
JUL 14 1981; Ali, Muhammad (Boxer) - Ind.; (Photo By Lyn Alweis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

"Clay was a white man's name, was a slave name, and I'm no longer Clay, no longer [a slave]. I'm now Muhammad Ali," Ali told an NBC reporter.

And while those moves themselves weren't necessarily popular, Ali caused even more of an uproar when he refused to fight in the Vietnam War, declaring himself a conscientious objector.

Ali was arrested, had his title stripped and was unable to box professionally for three years.
Keep in mind, the Vietnam War was relatively popular when Ali made his stand. In many ways, Ali was vilified and even African-American athletes disagreed with his stance.

Eventually, the Supreme Court ruled in Ali's favor, took away the threat of jail time and allowed him to box again. Some, like former Attorney General Eric Holder, have said that court decision was a bigger victory than any of his boxing matches.

But beyond any social justice or fights in the ring, Ali's greatest strength may have been his ability to connect with people — both one-on-one and across the globe.

This video includes clips from CBS, Nationaal Archief / CC BY SA 3.0, Library of Congress, ABC, Dutch National Archives / CC BY SA 3.0, History Channel, NBC, Florida Memory and 대한민국 정부. ​

RELATED: Reactions to Muhammad Ali's death

Social reactions to Muhammad Ali's death
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In 1981, Muhammad Ali talked a suicidal man off a ledge
Our father was a "Humble Mountain!" And now he has gone home to God. God bless you daddy. YOU ARE THE LOVE OF MY LIFE!
The Greatest Man that ever lived. Daddy my best friend & my Hero You R no longer suffering & now in a better place.
R.I.P to the World's Greatest #MuhammedAli #Legend
Goodbye my friend. You were Great in so many ways.
Paul on the passing of Muhammad Ali:
Muhammad Ali was the greatest, not only an extraordinary athlete but a man of great courage and humanity.
I wish this year would stop already it's just to much.
I met him a few times . And he was always the funniest guy in the room. So sad.
Ali, the G-O-A-T. A giant, an inspiration, a man of peace, a warrior for the cure. Thank you.
God came for his champion. So long great one. @MuhammadAli #TheGreatest #RIP
My thoughts & prayers go out to Muhammad Ali's family. My long statement is posted on
For the greatest man I have ever known.
Today my heart goes out to a pioneer, a true legend, and a hero by all means! Not a day went by entering the gym that I didn't think of you. Your charisma, your charm and above all, your class are all of the elements that will be greatly missed by myself and the world. You are someone that inspired me greatly throughout my boxing journey and words cannot express how great you were as a person! Thank you for everything you've done for Black America, in the the world of sports & entertainment and for the legacy you leave behind! My sincerest condolences to the Ali family!
"I'm so fast, I can turn off the light and hop in the bed before the room gets dark." RIP Muhammad Ali #GOAT
You will always be my hero ... #MuhammadAli
I had the honor of knowing #Muhammad Ali. He was simply The greatest inspiration to the whole world. Sad sad day.
God bless the greatest forever the greatest. A true hero. A man of conviction and love
Ali, you were generous every time I met you. Thank you for all you did for so many. Your memory will live on forever #Olympicgold #GOAT
Ralph Ali, Frazier & Foreman we were 1 guy. A part of me slipped away, "The greatest piece"
R.I.P Muhammad saddening #WorldsGreatest #Legendary
The original GOAT is gone. I will never forget his vast legacy and the time he showed me a magic trick. #MuhammadAli Forever!!
#RIPMuhammadAli - one of the most powerful, courageous, passionate souls to walk this earth.
The Champion of Champions! In the most brutal of sports he was all beauty and grace. #MuhammadAli

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