I heard about Muhammad Ali being in the hospital yesterday evening and then the news about his passing a few hours later. It seemed important to take the time and write something meaningful about him.
What we all should take away from Muhammad Ali is that he transcended boxing to becoming an icon of the 20th century. What made him so was not that he was a great boxer, or really “the greatest of all time” because he did lose 5 fights, Floyd Mayweather is still undefeated. So the G.O.A.T. label, if only concerning boxing, is disputable.
What stands out about Muhammad Ali is that he put it all on the line for ideas, principles and others. Time and time again he took positions that directly and indirectly impacted his career and earnings.
Like joining the Nation of Islam, being a mentee of Malcolm X; those who terrified white America. He not only demanded exemption from a war and avoided a draft but spoke out loudly against it and how it was the black man being made to fight another man’s war.
I just can’t imagine how much more Ali would have said, would have done, would have been, through all these decades, if Parkinson’s hadn’t taken so much life out of him. Him, being diagnosed four years after putting the gloves down.
Ali shocked, awed and fought, not just in the ring, as he taught. We all may not be able to afford to stand apart every time it occasions as Ali did but maybe one day, when you are called, you can remember him and “rumble young man rumble.”