Why are we still fascinated by Muhammad Ali?

Few athletes in the history of modern sport can claim to have been, at the apex of their celebrity, known to the masses not just in their native land, but worldwide. Fewer still can boast of enjoying a similar standing almost 30 years after the last time they performed, and almost 40 years from that time when the world was at their feet.
Muhammad Ali is such an athlete.
It seems incomprehensible today that a mere boxer could command such worldwide fame that, a quarter-century after his final appearance in a prize ring, his image remains one of the most recognizable on the planet. Ali’s does. Still.
In 2006, 25 years after an ordinary heavyweight named Trevor Berbick pummeled him into a final, dreadful retirement in the Bahamas, CKX, an entertainment licensing firm, paid Ali $50 million in cash for an 80 percent stake in his name and likeness.

espn.com
8/19/08