The Time Muhammad Ali Rescued A Suicidal Man

Muhammad Ali is regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time. He started boxing at the age of 12 and won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics before starting his long and successful career. Apart from being a superb sportsman, Ali was also loved by many for his work outside the boxing ring. As reported by The Huffington Post, he fought for social justice and was a civil rights icon, and he also participated in humanitarian work in several African countries to aid those in need. It's safe to say that Ali was an inspiration to many and was able to improve many people's lives. In one instance, however, the boxing great literally saved one person's life.

On January 19, 1981, reports came in of a young African American man — only identified as Joe — attempting to jump from the ledge of a building located in Los Angeles. As The New York Times reported, Joe, a 21-year-old Vietnam War veteran, had been standing there for hours. A police spokesman said that the man seemed to be disoriented and thought he was still fighting in Vietnam. Joe dangled his feet over the edge of the building and threatened to jump whenever someone attempted to go near him. The situation was made worse by a crowd that had gathered below the building goading Joe to jump.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Muhammad Ali arrived at the scene

According to The Sportsman, Joe was on the 9th floor of the building, about 100 feet from the ground. Policemen, a psychologist, and a minister were called to the scene to pacify the man and get him away from the ledge, but their efforts were unsuccessful. Joe continued to tell them that he was "no good" and that he would jump to end his life.

One of the people in the crowd was a man named Howard Bingham, who happened to be one of Muhammad Ali's closest friends. He called the boxer and told him about the ongoing incident. Ali, who lived nearby, rolled onto the scene in his vehicle less than five minutes after receiving the call (via The New York Times). He asked authorities if he could try and get the man to back away from the ledge. Ali was allowed to get into the building, and he was briefed about how to engage with Joe. The athlete talked to the man from a fire escape and said, "You're my brother. I love you and I wouldn't lie to you. You got to listen." Joe finally calmed down and opened the door to let Ali come through. The boxer slowly approached Joe, put his arm around him, and convinced him to get down.

The scene was captured by a photographer

Joe was taken to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation after the incident. Muhammad Ali stated that he would help the young man by providing him with clothing, and helping him go to school and get a job. He also wanted to meet his parents, as he told Joe that he would "stay close to him," as reported by The Sportsman. Ali was given permission to take away Joe from the scene in his Rolls Royce, but the young man remained handcuffed during the ride.

When reports of a suicidal man attempting to jump off a building came on the radio, Los Angeles Times photographer Boris Yaro wanted to cover the story, but his editor didn't show interest. Regardless, Yaro headed to the location, and he captured the moment between Ali and Joe (per Rare Historical Photos). The young man was wearing a hoodie paired with jeans, while the boxing great wore a suit and had half of his body out on the fire escape talking to Joe. Boris was able to photograph one of Ali's greatest moments, albeit not from the boxing ring.