Video: How a Chance Encounter at Muhammad Ali’s Funeral Led Russell Durgasingh to CDL School

Russell Durgasingh called his attendance at the emotional funeral of boxing legend and Louisville native Muhammad Ali in June “life-changing.”

It also could be career-changing.

At that funeral, Durgasingh, 45, bumped into a friend with more than 20 years of CDL experience to his credit. Durgasingh knew that his own job as a shuttle bus driver at the time was on shaky ground, as the company was downsizing and changing focus, so he already was pondering his next career move.

PHOTO GALLERY: Photos of students, classroom and training property. 

That chat with his friend persuaded Durgasingh to seek a trucking career that begins at Truck America Training, where he is one of seven students pursuing a commercial driver’s license in a class that Transport Topics is following via our daily online series, CDL or Bust.

Durgasingh’s connection to Ali began even before they called the same city home.

“I was pretty much born in the boxing gym,” Durgasingh said during a Skype video interview. “In the West Indies, there’s not football or basketball, there’s either boxing, soccer or fighting, so my dad was a boxer. It was just unspoken that you were going to be in the gym with some gloves on when you were able to walk.”

That made Durgasingh a lifelong student and fan of the sport.

“Muhammad Ali was a big influence on our lives, being that my dad promoted some exhibition matches of Muhammad Ali’s in the West Indies,” he said.

Now, Durgasingh also follows mixed martial arts, but his primary focus over the next three weeks is earning his CDL. He is confident he can handle this week’s writen classroom work and is eager to get outside next week.

“I want to get in the truck and get a feel for it and see what I need to work on and see what I’m actually dealing with,” he said.

Got a question or comment for Russell? Send it to us on Twitter using hashtag #CDLorBust and we'll ask him Aug. 29 during our next Skype session.


- By Gary Kicinski, Transport Topics Digital Media Editor. Photo by John Sommers II for TT.