As most of you probably heard, legendary boxer Muhammad Ali died Friday June 3 at age 74 due to respiratory complications.
Many times when celebrities go, there is an outcry from people whether they are doing it to be part of the trend or are sincerely sorry for the loss. I am not the type of person who is big into the whole Rest In Peace trend that we have now with social media.
However, every once in a while someone passes and I really hate that the world no longer has this person.
I felt that way about Nelson Mandela, Robin Williams and I damn sure feel that way about Ali. This one stings.
Ali is one of my favorite athletes to ever live despite him coming up well before I was even thought to be a bun in the oven.
We all know how great of a boxer Ali was. Most, including myself, consider him to be the greatest to ever grace a boxing ring, rightfully so holding a record of 56-5 (37 KOs). He also came up in a time where the sport was really gaining some traction with boxers like Sonny Liston, George Foreman and Joe Frazier.
Many consider the prime of boxing to be the 1980’s, which is the time Ali finally called the quits after dropping his last two bouts. One can argue those guys helped pave the way for the peak of the sport.
That is all well and good, but his actions outside the ring is why I will always be a huge fan.
Ali is the best trash talker I have ever heard, period. We are talking about a guy who used to cut WWE promos in a sport where someone could literally dome rock the crap out of you. When I need a little motivation about anything at all, I will go on Youtube and just find some of his pre and post fight pressers.
Look up cocky or trash talk and Ali’s face will appear next to it.
Some of my personal favorite quotes are…
“I hospitalized a brick. I am so mean I make medicine sick.”
“I done wrastled with a alligator. I done tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail.”
“I know you got him (Sonny Liston). I know you got him picked. But the man is in trouble, Ima show you how great I am.”
Yes I know the first three are from the same speech, but that really was the greatest sports speech ever.
“If you even dream of beating me, you better wake up and apologize.”
“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.”
“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
And my favorite…
“A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
The real reason this loss cuts deep is because of how much he inspired and accomplished outside of boxing.
Ali was convicted and exiled from boxing after refusing to serve in the Vietnam war so he did not have a single fight from 25-29, his prime years.
He had a strong stance against the war due to religious beliefs and his following of the Qur’an. He was quoted saying he was not about to go drop bombs on brown people when black folks are treated like dogs in Louisville, Kentucky (Ali’s hometown).
Ali came up in a time where black folks were not seen as equal and people were battling a very heavy race problem. As sad as it is, a fight we still have in 2016.
Many folks despised Ali because he was a brash and arrogant black man who could certainly get away with it. That rubbed people the wrong way.
But it also inspired guys like Dr. Martin Luther King to stand up for his beliefs publicly, which who knows where we would be without him and many others who fought for the Civil Rights Movement.
Not only did Ali have a target on his back because he was black, but also because of his religious alignment and his affiliation with the Nation of Islam, an all black muslim movement created in the 1930s.
The leader of the nation, Elijah Muhammed believed that the entire white race were devils created by a black scientist named Yakub.
After joining the nation, Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali. People were furious. Muhammad means one who is worth praise and Ali is the son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad and the second most important figure in Shia view.
Many journalists at the time bashed him for the name change.
Ali responded and said “I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black. Confident. Cocky. My name. Not yours. My religion. Not yours. My goals. My own. Get used to me.”
Because of his affiliation with the Nation of Islam, Ali was viewed as a racist against white people because of the group’s belief that white people are the perpetrators of genocide, which led to his 10,000 snakes and white people quote during a TV interview.
“There are many white people who mean right and in their hearts wanna do right. If 10,000 snakes were coming down that aisle now, and I had a door that I could shut, and in that 10,000, 1,000 meant right, 1,000 rattlesnakes didn’t want to bite me, I knew they were good… Should I let all these rattlesnakes come down, hoping that that thousand get together and form a shield? Or should I just close the door and stay safe?”
Ali even went as far as to refer to his many white friends as “associates,” even his trainer Angelo Dundee.
One of Ali’s biggest regrets in all of his life was The Nation of Islam. Ali wrote in 2004..
“The Nation of Islam taught that white people were devils. I don’t believe that now; in fact, I never really believed that. But when I was young, I had seen and heard so many horrible stories about the white man that this made me stop and listen.”
At the end of the day, can anyone honestly blame the black community for feeling that way at that particular time in history?
Referring back to my favorite quote from Ali, “a man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
After playing an integral part in the Civil Rights movement, fighting off a penalty for objecting to go to a war the United States had no business in and paving the way for the world of boxing, Ali certainly did not waste any of the 74 years he spent on this planet.
Thank you for amazing highlights inside the ring. Thank you for being true to who you are, a proud black man. Thank you for standing up for what you believed in.
You are revered. You are incredible. You are the greatest.
Rest In Peace, Muhammad Ali.