As sports fans and those who never saw him in the boxing ring paid tribute Saturday to former boxer Muhammad Ali, who died Friday at age 74, San Jose Sharks Coach Peter DeBoer added his voice to the chorus by sharing — without prompting — a story about his memorable chance encounter with Ali in Hamilton, Canada.
“Thirty years ago, I was at my prom at the Royal Connaught Hotel in Hamilton,” DeBoer said Saturday morning, hours before the Sharks were to face the Pittsburgh Penguins at SAP Center in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
“Seventeen-year-old kid. I had my tux on, and I was in the lobby. Muhammad Ali walked in with his entourage. He was there for some type of appearance. And I asked one of the entourage if I could meet him with my friends, and he said, ‘Just give me a minute.’ He came back to me, and he said, ‘Muhammad Ali is up in this room; meet him in his room in five minutes.’ And me and three or four of my buddies went up to his room.