Known as much for his beguiling charm, outrageous boasting and poems as his powerful fists, Ali worked the crowd, treating everyone to a word or a playful punch and even had time to pay special attention to Mandy Tourle, who was then aged just 12 months old. The boxer had arrived in Southampton by train on Thursday October 15, 1971 and was then whisked off to the Fine Fare store where he spent about half-an-hour autographing tins of Ovaltine. Later chatting at the old Polygon Hotel, then the most prestigious in Southampton but now demolished to make way for a new development of flats, the boxer was happy to hold court surrounded by scores of media, journalists, and TV cameramen. Somehow one of Ali’s fans, Beda Graham with his wife, Yvonne and their five children, from Townhill Park in Southampton appeared by the side of the great man. Turning to the youngsters, Ali quipped with his usual amicable “tact”: “How come you are so pretty when your dad looks like that!”
Settling back in his chair the boxer said that he had just returned from Nigeria where he also helped advertise Ovaltine. “This is the first thing I have ever promoted,” he told the gathered pressmen. “I don’t promote alcohol, cigarettes, or beer –- nor do I make any movies. “I have turned down offers of 10 million dollars to advertise things I do not believe in.” The benefits of bedtime drinks were not the only subject Ali, never at a loss for words, talked about and as usual he took the chance to snipe at his arch-rival Joe Frazier, then the world heavyweight champion. “I am going to retire after I meet Joe Frazier,” said Ali. “I am going to whup him like I did the first time. “It was the judge who gave him the fight.” Ali, who was stripped of his world title for refusing to do National Service in the United States during the Vietnam War, was beaten by Frazier in his attempt to win back the title.