“I don’t smoke but I keep a matchbox in my pocket. When my heart slips toward a sin, I burn a matchstick and heat my palm. Then I say to myself “Ali you can’t bear even this heat,Then how would you bear the unbearable heat of Hell?”– Muhammad Ali
Ali preparing before the “thrilla in manila”.
Muhammad Ali was ‘The Greatest’. Period. If you just asked him, he’d tell you he was double greatest; that he’d wrestled with the alligators, he sailed with whale, handcuffed lightning and threw thunder into the jail, he was so mean he made medicine sick, he was so fast he would flip the light switch and be in bed before it gets dark.
Ali after knocking out Liston in 1st round to become World Heavyweight Champion.
He shocked the world and become the “King of the world” when he knocked out Sonny Liston in the first. He won the thrilla in Manila against Smokin’ Joe. All he needed was one prayer and Foreman fell at 8 in “The Rumble In The Jungle”, he could fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee, his opponents knew there hands won’t hit what their eyes can’t see and he danced upon them. He took life into the championship rounds, and as the last bell rang, he did his final shuffle. Shuffle with life and death & still remained the Greatest.
Ali and Joe during the renowned “Fight of the Century”.
Actually, there were many great before and after Ali in sports history but what made the legend of “Ali”-The Greatest, that he was only one whose impact left major footprint in people’s mind, both considering sports and social front. He was one of the few who raised his voice against the social injustice at the time when American population was divided at all front regarding discrimination, Xenophobia and most importantly Black rights, which made him more likeable among the common people, especially in America.
Still, whether or not one liked Ali’s views, he was the ultimate symbol of black pride and resistance to an unjust social order. And his demand for the full entitlement for all black people was on the cutting edge of an era. At that time everyone was plugged into this man, because he was taking on all of America. There had never been anybody in his position who directly addressed himself to the racism. Racism was virulent but you didn’t talk about those things in America, at that time. If you wanted to make it in the USA, you had to be quiet, carry yourself in a certain way, and not saying anything about what was going on, even though there was a knife sticking at your throat. Ali changed all of that. He just laid it out and talked about racism and slavery and all of that stuff. He put it on table. And everybody who was black, whether they said it overtly or covertly, said “Amen”. He reached a point where, when people looked at him, they didn’t see black or white. They saw Ali. Ali encouraged millions of people to believe in themselves, raise their aspirations and accomplish things they might not have done without him. Every time he looked in the mirror and said, “I am so pretty” he was saying, “black is beautiful” before it became fashionable. Ali wasn’t just a standard bearer of black Americans. He stood for everyone and loved by them.
Ali during protest against racism.
So now he no longer exhibits in the world which is too slow for his feet and never ready for his crunching upper cuts and talks. You are a true champion Ali, both inside and outside the ring.
May God give you the belt you deserve.
61 fights,56 wins,37 knockouts
Olympic Gold Medallist
World Heavyweight Champion