Crystal helps Ali celebrate birthday

Updated: January 18, 2007, 1:38 AM ET
Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Muhammad Ali celebrated his 65th birthday Wednesday night watching his old friend Billy Crystal perform at Arizona State University.

Billy Crystal & Muhammad Ali
AP Photo/Ross D. FranklinAli joined Crystal onstage, where he received a standing ovation and a cake.
The former heavyweight champion joined the comedian on stage, receiving a minute-long standing ovation from the crowd and a cake from Crystal's wife.

"He's been a truly great friend to me and a great friend to the world," Crystal said. "Please join me in singing happy birthday to the greatest senior citizen of all-time."

The nearly 2,000 people who came to see Crystal's one-man show, "700 Sundays," chanted "Ali! Ali! Ali!"

Crystal and Ali held up fists in a mock staredown as Crystal's wife, Janice, came out with a cake with one candle lit. Ali dipped his finger in the cake and, arm in arm, the boxer and the comedian blew out the candle and walked off stage.

"I'm really happy we had tickets tonight," said Cheryl Tamasauckas of Scottsdale. "Even though I'm not a boxing fan, everybody knows him."

David Tipp, of Tempe, said the moment brought a tear to his eye.

"If I was onstage and I was Muhammad Ali, I'd be taken aback by that," Tipp said. "I'm going to tell everybody that story now."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press