“This is the story of Muhammad Ali
The prettiest fighter that ever will be,
He talks a great deal, and brags indeed-y,
Of a muscular punch that’s incredibly speed-y.
The fistic world was dull and weary,
With a champ like Liston, things had to be dreary.
Then comes someone with colour, someone with dash,
To get the fight fans running’ with Cash.
This brash young fighter is something to see
And the heavyweight championship is his des-tin-y.
Ali fights great; he’s got speed and endurance,
But if you sign on to fight him, increase your insurance.
Ali’s got left, Ali’s got right,
And if he hits you once, you’re asleep for the night.
As you lie on the mat as the ref counts ten,
You’ll pray you never have to fight him again.
For I am the man this poem is about.
The heavyweight champion, there is no doubt.
This I predicted and I knew the score,
The champ of the world in ‘64.
When I say three, they’ll go in the third,
Don’t bet against me, I’m a man of my word.
For I am the man this poem is about,
The heavyweight champ, there is no doubt.
Here I predicted Mr. Liston’s dismemberment,
Hit him so hard, he wondered where october and
When I say two, there’s never a third,
Standin’ against me is completely absurd.
If I tell you a mosquito can pull a plow
Don’t ask how; hitch him up !
I AM THE GREATEST!”
Anybody who knows me will know he was my hero. Not just because of the boxer he was, but also because of the man he was. He was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but he showed me and I think the world, even the greatest among us have flaws.
Not a perfect superhero, just a superior human being.
As a boxer myself I marvelled at his bravery, skill and intelligence in the ring, and how he made it look easy!
Joe Frazier and the list goes on…
There was only one belt so he HAD to fight and beat everybody (not like today). It’s difficult to imagine how big a star he would’ve been had he fought today. With charisma, charm, candour and compassion he won the hearts of billions of people around the world.
A blue chip PPV attraction light years ahead of this time.
Most of all I respected the fact he had the courage of his conviction outside the ring. He fought for and won Olympic gold for his country, but returned to a highly segregated society that denied him basic rights simply because he had the audacity to be born black. Despite it being the pinnacle of athletic achievement, he threw that medal into the Ohio river in disgust because he couldn’t stand the hypocrisy.
4 years later he was heavyweight champion of the world and 5 years after that he was the most famous man on the planet. He had an impact in every corner of this Earth and did this in a time without the internet and social media.
In the words of the man himself…“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.”
In my opinion, I and the rest of the world will mourn (and will continue to for a while) because of his ability to transcend sporting, racial, gender, and religious lines and his willingness to always stand up for what he believed to be right.
At the peak of his career he was drafted to fight in a Vietnam war he (and many other American’s) did not believe in. In the face of extreme societal and political pressure, and putting his livelihood at risk, he stood up and said something that many of us (including me) struggle to say with even lower stakes…and that is NO! Not now, not ever.
“I ain’t draft dodging. I ain’t burning no flag. I ain’t running to Canada. I’m staying right here. You want to send me to jail? Fine, you go right ahead. I’ve been in jail for 400 years. I could be there for 4 or 5 more, but I ain’t going no 10,000 miles to help murder and kill other poor people. If I want to die, I’ll die right here, right now, fightin’ you, if I want to die. You my enemy, not no Chinese, no Vietcong, no Japanese. You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice. You my opposer when I want equality. Want me to go somewhere and fight for you? You won’t even stand up for me right here in America, for my rights and my religious beliefs. You won’t even stand up for my rights here at home.”-Muhammad Ali
He lost 3 years in his prime all because he decided some things in this world like justice, equality and respect for human life, were more important than money and fame.
They say that when you go through the fire of struggle and hardship, it’s because god or life is preparing you for something better. Hard times also show yourself and the world what kind of person you are and his subsequent treatment of Joe Frazier is one of the reasons why I say The Champ was not perfect.
In any case Ali came out of the other side of that struggle and took on the greatest challenge of his career; The Rumble in the Jungle against George Foreman. Taking on a man significantly younger and stronger, many journalists feared for his life. George Foreman was a physical beast and Ali was the serious underdog. What happened next is the stuff of legend that will be talked about for generations to come.
And he did, and continued to do so right up until he died. I could go on all day, but I think I’ll stop here, and simply say the world has lost a special individual. Let’s not forget the lessons he taught us, and let our lives be our tribute to him.
Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. aka Muhammad “The Greatest” Ali
R.I.P CHAMP You truly were The Greatest.
The world is a better place because you came this way.