“That interview was autumnal. He was not well, his voice was slurred and I felt so sad, because I knew I’d never see him again. We all knew what was going to happen, it was like watching a great tower being demolished in slow-motion,” stated Parkinson
When Ali was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Century in 1999, Parkinson was asked to present the award.
He declined, feeling “unable to encounter at close quarters that once glorious man now wrecked by a terrible illness”.
Parkinson shared to BBC when Ali died back in 2016: “I’m so proud of those interviews. Parts of them are rough and ready but we got some things right and you come away with the impression of a remarkable man.
“I didn’t like him to start with, but then I got to understand him better. I wasn’t angry [after the third interview in 1974]. I understood that he just meant things for the moment. I liked the fact he had balls and didn’t care who he offended.”