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Sen. Hatch mourns death of good friend Muhammad Ali

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Posted at 11:32 AM, Jun 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-04 23:22:55-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Sen. Orrin Hatch is mourning the death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, after Ali passed away on Friday.

Hatch spokeswoman Heather Barney said the two have been good friends for many years, after Ali showed up at Hatch’s office unannounced one day in 1988.

“He said ‘I like you, and I want to help you,’” Barney states, in an email sent to FOX 13.

One story of note—Hatch asked Ali for a pair of boxing gloves, after seeing gloves on display in Ted Kennedy’s outer office.

“So one day Ali just showed up at Hatch’s office carrying a display in a glass box, which included a two-page article from Insight Magazine, and one of Ali’s world championship belt buckles,” Barney explained.

An inscription in the framed display read: “To my dear friend Orrin Hatch, the man who should be president of the United States. With the highest respect and the deepest affection — From one champion to another. Love, Muhammad Ali.”

The two bonded over boxing, she said.

“Hatch was an amateur boxer in his day and remembers listening on the radio to Ali’s fight against Sonny Liston in 1964 when he won his first Heavyweight Crown,” Barney wrote. “Orrin was listening with his father, also a boxing fan.”

The email states Ali traveled to Utah in September of 1988 to campaign for Hatch.

“They met with reporters at the State Capitol and then adjourned to the lawn outside the capitol to greet supporters and children. Ali then went with Hatch to Primary Children’s Medical Center, to a martial arts gymnasium and hit a speed bag, then they went to Temple Square to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir,” Barney said.

She wrote that Ali even met Hatch’s parents, and ate a home cooked meal made by Hatch’s mother that included her famous fried chicken.

Fast forward to 1995, and Barney said Ali again came to Utah to see Hatch, for the Hatch-founded Utah Families Congressional Golf Challenge.

He took photos with golfers, raising money for Utah charities.

Barney said Ali was interviewed for Insight Magazine, and it listed Hatch as Ali’s favorite when it came to his friends in politics.

The article included Ali’s good words for Hatch and his character.

Hatch spokesperson Matt Whitlock said Saturday that Hatch has checked in on Ali’s wife, Lonnie Ali, and that she’s asked him to speak at Ali’s funeral.