Muhammad Ali was more than just a sports figure. He represented hope for a lot of people who needed inspiration. He was extremely flamboyant, flashy and articulate which didn’t seem to fit the characteristics of most boxers. The usual stereotype for boxers is tough, mean looking and not very bright. Muhammad Ali changed all that when he came on the scene. The world lost this valued treasure recently at the age of 74 due to a long battle with parkinson’s disease. Ali was also known to stand up for his religious beliefs, especially when he was stripped of his title when in 1967 he refused to enlist in the armed services saying “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong.” On June 20th, Ali was convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to 5 years in prison, fined $10,000 and banned from boxing for 3 years. He stayed out of prison while on appeal and eventually returned to boxing. At one point Ali was the “most famous man in the world.” Many years ago I remember actually standing by him at some sort of ceremony here in Philadelphia. There was a narrow barrier runway with many people on both sides of it. I was actually at the starting point where he was. He was dressed in a suit and he was about to walk down that runway. As he proceeded through all the people were reaching out to touch him and I could feel that he wanted to get through that passageway without being poked or prodded. There was no chance of that as everyone wanted to touch the champ. Ali absolutely “deserves” to be viewed as one of the most influential and greatest people in sports history, not just for what he accomplished but “how” he accomplished it. My most compelling scene of him was during the opening ceremony of the Olympics when the torch was passed to Ali and he held it proudly while his arm was twitching wildly. That was when everyone realized that he had made the transition from the greatest boxer to now being someone losing his battle with time. There isn’t enough that I can say about his career and keep this short. As much as he did for the world of boxing and the rest of the world I needed to mention him today. Rest in peace, Muhammad, knowing that you fulfilled your legacy as being “the greatest.” Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
The Stylistics and Brett Jolly in concert