I was never a great fan of boxing, but I grew up in a family with three brothers, so I watched boxing along with the rest of the family. When Muhammad Ali arrived on the scene when I was about thirteen, everything changed. His confidence was unreal. He REALLY did resurrect boxing. I loved his poetry, too. I could hardly wait for what he would say next.
Integrity was one of Muhammad Ali’s greatest character assets. He absolutely stood up for what he believed in. Ali was very REAL, and after he lost his world championship title because he was a conscientious objector and would not fight in Viet Nam, I was awed by his courage. I have rarely ever seen an athlete or and other human being give up so much because of his or her integrity. As a younger person, I did not know what to think back then, but today I get how courageous and what a deep spirit he had and maintained throughout his life.
“The Draft is about White People sending Black People to fight Yellow People to protect the country they stole from the Red People.”
Muhammad Ali’s deep character showed up in his fight for civil rights, too. He fearlessly spoke about race during some of the worst racial tension the USA had ever seen. He had suffered personally because of racism. He was not afraid to get all the political backlash that he received. However, because he stood up he became known as a world wide hero in Muslim countries and everywhere else.
“It isn’t the mountain ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”
When Muhammad Ali revealed he had Parkinson’s Disease in 1984 when he was 42 years old, he grew again as a human being and accepted his illness with great dignity. Living with Parkinson’s Disease, for more than 30 years, again Muhammad Ali showed me what an amazing human being he was. I knew this disease because my father-in-law had had it, and Parkinson’s disease contributed to his last fall before my father-in-law died of complications 3 months later. Watching my father-in-law., Bill Briggs’ challenges, I had a small sense of what Ali was up against. Also seeing my aunt, Bunny Becker, with her challenges with Parkinson’s disease, I had an inkling what it took for Muhammad Ali to carry the torch for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. I was so proud watching him carry the torch and lighting the Olympic flame. For me that was one of the greatest positive moments of that Olympics.
Here are several other quotes from this poet-athlete-philosopher-life coach:
“What you are thinking about you are becoming.”
There was one other way that I have been inadvertently affected by Muhammad Ali. He touched the life of my nephew, Reza Izad, who was Muhammad Ali’s agent for a time. When I visit my sister’s home, I see the autographed photo from Mohammad Ali, and I know Ali made a difference in my nephew’s life, and I smile.
I sent a message to Reza after Muhammad Ali died and he messaged me: “It was very special to work with him (Ali). I have been lucky to work with some great people, and he was the BEST.”
NPR has done some great tributes to Muhammad Ali. Take a listen.
Mohammad Ali has been said to have been kind and loving. Some the best testaments about Ali come from his own children. This is a story that Muhammad Ali’s daughter Hana related:
And his daughter, Laila Ali, who was a boxer, said:
“My dad lived by example. I lived by watching him. I watched all the great things he did and said. I try to walk that talk with my children.”
These days too often we clamor to watch super heroes in films. For me, Muhammad Ali was a real live super hero. He has been present in my entire life. He has shown me how I can stand up of myself. He has shown me that you will not always be liked when you stand up for what is right. Also by example, I have seen how he grew and changed as he aged. Thank you for being such a positive force and example in my life, Muhammad Ali. I know that you have touched so many people on this planet, as you have touched me and my life.
Rest in Peace, Muhammad Ali, you have helped to make this world a better place.