At one point in time, boxing was a huge sport in America. And each time it was on, people could not help talking about the sweet science and how great it was to watch. One of the people that made boxing such a great thing to watch was Muhammad Ali. Born Cassius Clay back in 1942, he converted to the Nation Of Islam back in 1964 and began being known as Muhammad Ali at that time. During his boxing career, he put up a record of 56 wins and only 5 losses. And of those 56 wins, 37 of them were by knockout. He also held many numerous heavyweight titles when he was boxing, including being the only three-time lineal world heavyweight champion (1964, 1974 and 1978). And although he was not the same boxer in his later years in the game, he is still known to many as The Greatest Of All Time. Muhammad Ali was still revered by many and that is why his death has hit so many so hard. Ali passed away June 3, 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was hospitalized with a respiratory condition on June 2 and his condition never got better. He was placed on life support and he eventually passed away. Ali will definitely be missed by many. But his effect was much bigger than the boxing gloves that he wore in the ring and his accomplishments there.
Ali was a great boxer, but he never let that take precedent over what he believed in. The great boxer and champion refused to be inducted into the armed forces in regards to the Vietnam War. And as a result of that, he had his boxing career taking from him, as states refused to grant him a boxing license during that time. He was also stripped of his passport and was away from the game from March 1967- October 1970. He looked at the way African-Americans were treated here in America at that time and felt it was horrible to go fight for a country that did not believe in equal treatment. Here is a quote from Ali in regards to him not enlisting: " Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand 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 am not going ten thousand 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 put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is right 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. But I either have to obey the laws of the land or the laws of Allah. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail. We’ve been in jail for four hundred years." Ali was jailed and had boxing taking away from him, but he did not care. He fought for what he felt was right. And in the end, he won his battle for what he believed in. He still takes some heat from people for that, but he showed right there what made him such a great person and human being.
Ali was an incredible boxer and that role in his life will never be disputed. But he used his platform and his status in boxing to expand his mission. He believed in peace, understanding and fighting for what he felt was right. And even when he was done boxing, he kept on fighting for what he believed in. In 1985, he helped secure the release of four hostages over in Lebanon. And all those places that he visited boxing, he actually was continually active there, delivering meals to the world's hungry in those places, providing over 232 million meals. His efforts were international, but he did not forget about taking care of folks here in the United States either. He helped organizations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Special Olympics. Ali also was known to visit soup kitchens and hospitals. He saw the bigger picture even when he was boxing as evident with this quote: "I’ve always wanted to be more than just a boxer. More than just the three-time heavyweight champion. I wanted to use my fame, and this face that everyone knows so well, to help uplift and inspire people around the world.” Ali got the bigger picture. He did not do these things for the fame or for the recognition. He did the things he did for the greater good of those around him. Many folks do things for the love of the fame that comes with it. But Ali was a man of a different thinking and being. He did it because he felt that was the right thing to do.
We all know the quotes that Ali has said over the years. One of his most memorable quotes is this one: "Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee." He definitely did his thing in the boxing ring, but that quote was not the one that represented him the most to me. He was more than just a boxer and this one is what describes him the most to me: "Service to others is the rent you pay for room here on Earth." Well, Ali has paid his rent and then some with all that he did here on Earth. His presence will be missed here. But now he is no longer in pain. I was not alive when he was boxing. But I have been alive to see what all he has done for the world as a whole outside of boxing. And for that, he will forever be remembered in my heart. The boxing ring was only a tool he used for his greatness as a human being. So long Ali. Rest in Peace.