We know the icons. Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali. Of course there are more icons, but when I think of larger than life persons, those 4 come to mind right away. So the big question is, how can you do them justice in an article? I definitely can’t, but that doesn’t mean I can’t give it a shot.
It is a sad day. Muhammad Ali, to me, was the greatest. Inside the ring and outside of the ring. The man had athletic ability, gift of the gab, various other qualities and a huge amount of charisma. He was fucking mainstream before mainstream became mainstream. He was beloved all over the world and people always remember him fondly as a great fighter and showman and even a greater person.
Muhammad Ali became olympic boxing champion in Rome in 1960. He was also chosen as the sportsman of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated. I think it was fully deserved, because he was unlike any other athlete. He was more intelligent than most athletes and when he spoke people listened. In fact, he might have been the most legendary athlete ever. I don’t know any other athlete who could be that legendary.
Ali is also known for legendary quotes. Quotes like:
- I am the greatest
- Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee
- Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.
- If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize.
- The government had a system where the rich man’s son went to college, and the poor man’s son went to war.
- I won’t be used by powerful white men as a tool to kill other people who are fighting for their own beliefs and freedoms, and neither should you, especially if you’re poor and/or black.
Ali refused to go fight for the US in Vietnam. He said:
“My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father… Shoot them for what? How am I going to shoot them? Poor little black people, little babies, and children, women. How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.”
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”
He didn’t go to jail, but they stripped him of the world title and was not allowed to fight between 1967 and 1970. I guess somebody had it really in for him. It is a travesty if you ask me. But Ali came back stronger than ever. He won 2 more world titles after that making him a three-time world champion. His second world title was the legendary Rumble In The Jungle match as the media called it. The match that was held in Kinshasa in Zaïre and also got its own documentary When We Were Kings.
Another reason I found Muhammad Ali cool, was because he loved pro wrestling. In fact, you could say, that he had a pro wrestling character as a boxer. Legendary is his “altercation” with Gorilla Monsoon.
Of course, any wrestling fan knows Ali was a special outside referee at the very first Wrestle Mania. Sometimes I wonder how many people he got into the arena, because he had a guest referee spot. Bottom line is, that he did his job in real Muhammad Ali fashion.
And tell me, how many celebrity athletes or celebrities took on Superman in a fight? Huh? Huh? That’s also why Muhammad Ali is the greatest.