Muhammad Ali was an all-round great. In the ring, he had incredibly fast hands and feet for a heavyweight boxer. In society, he had the bravery and eloquence of speech to stand up strongly for what he believed. He was stout in his fight for civil rights of African Americans against a hostile racist establishment and was vociferous in his anti-war stance during the Vietnam War. Not to mention, his mastery as a boxer made the whole world see him as extraordinary and phenomenal. Friday 3rd June 2016 will be an unforgettable date in history; it was a day when America lost one of most inspiring and influential human beings, Muhammad Ali. There aren’t words to describe how the entire world saw this man, although I will certainly say that he was someone of true character, someone who knew to fight for what was right, inside and outside of the ring.
While most may be familiar with him as a boxing champion, as “The Greatest,” it is important to note that he was a fighter for those who were bound by the oppression of social injustice. Born in January of 1942, Ali would begin his training at the early age of 12, to which he would go on to win Golden Glove titles, before heading into the 1960 Olympics in Rome where he would win a gold medal as a light heavyweight. Immediately going professional and quickly making his way into the world of stardom and fame, his face would become one of the most well-known on Earth, igniting smiles from all around the globe. In 1963, Ali made one of the most significant decisions in his life, converting to the Islam faith. Having done so as a result of being inspired by civil rights leader Malcolm X, Ali would go on to make an impact on people of color, pointing out the hypocrisy of denying rights to black people.
While Ali became a champion all around the world, at home, he had his own fight. In 1967, Ali refused to be drafted into the Vietnam War citing his religious beliefs and his opposition to the war. Consequently, he was stripped of his boxing title, convicted of draft evasion, and sentenced to five years in prison; he was later released on appeal. After successfully fighting his conviction at the Supreme Court in the year of 1971, Ali would go on to engage in heated public debates pointing out racism taking place in the United States.
Inside the ring, he returned to doing what he did best, “in his own words float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Ali was an exceptionally gifted and hardworking boxer who possessed excellent footwork and fast hands. Ali was a winner and fighter who never gave up, he was handed his first professional defeat by Joe Frazier in the “Fight of the Century” in New York on 8 March 1971, only to regain his title with an eighth-round knockout of George Foreman in the most famous fight of his career “The Rumble in the Jungle” in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) on 30 October 1974.
Outside the ring, Ali used his fast speech, extraordinary oratory skills and profound remarks to fight against the very plague of instituionalised racism in the United States. Mohammad Ali, a true champion of the world, has interchangeably used his strength to defend the honor of his title and his color.
In 1984, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome. During his lengthy battle with the disease, Ali was still one of the world’s most highly influential and inspirational figures, continuing to make an impact, contributing to the constantly shaping America as we know it today. As a result of septic shock while being hospitalized, our beloved Muhammad Ali passed away on the night of June 3rd, 2016. Having been a true heavyweight champion, what many would certainly call the best in the world, and defending his title a total of 6 times, Mohammed Ali has been a true American hero in boxing, as well as for civil rights for African Americans and people of color.
With his fights inside and outside of the ring, Muhammad Ali has honored the American people with his title, words, and wisdom, and it is today into the preeminent future when he honors us with his spirit. He will continue to inspire future generations by virtue of his legacy and his life of purpose. This is perfectly encapsulated in one of his most famous quotes “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. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
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