Bush, who appeared almost playful, fastened the heavy medal around Muhammad Ali's neck and whispered something in the heavyweight champion's ear. Then, as if to say "bring it on," the president put up his dukes in a mock challenge.
Ali, 63, who has Parkinson's disease and moves slowly, looked the president in the eye—and, finger to head, did the "crazy" twirl for a couple of seconds. The room of about 200, including Cabinet secretaries, tittered with laughter. Ali, who was then escorted back to his chair, made the twirl again while sitting down.
And the president looked visibly taken aback, laughing nervously. Was Ali making a political statement?