Muhammad Ali - Echoes of Greatness
"I'm so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark." - Muhammad Ali
I wasn't fortunate enough to be alive during the era of Ali's greatness. I never sat ringside and seen him fight, never shook his hand or had a chance to lock eyes with him. In fact I was born almost a year after his last fight in 1981, a loss to Trevor Berbick. Nonetheless Ali's greatness echoed in my ears and in my heart like the chants of the people in Kinshasa, Zaire. "Ali, Bumaye, Ali Bumaye!"
Ali's greatness transcended the sport of boxing and the legacy he left behind is more important than any 15 round bout. One of resolve, unwavering faith, passion for life, and unapologetic blackness. Even in death, he cannot be silenced, a god among men, he walked his talk eternally.
I will spare you the details of his story, because like most of us, we already know who he is. I struggled with how I would begin this article; countless amounts of documentation were already written during his existence. Through literature and film there is enough coverage on the person we all have known to love and to some despise. However one thing I have learned from Ali is to never be silenced.
"Let me see you close your mouth and keep it closed... Well you know that's impossible, I'm the greatest and I'm knocking out all bums...and if you get too smart I'll knock you out!" - Muhammad Ali
One thing that everyone can agree upon is there is no silencing Ali. His three year suspension from the sport of boxing could not keep him quiet. He was the champ even though the powers that be stripped him of his belt, the title of "peoples champion" remained. His faith carried him through his greatest personal ordeal, and he continued to stand before his judges. What made Ali great was not "The Thriller in Manila", or "The Rumble in the Jungle", it was his refusal to bow down to oppression. Inside the ring and out Ali refused to be beaten. That is the quintessential essence of his greatness. His fans have ran out of superlatives to describe him, and even as I write this today I too am at a loss for words. Who Muhammad Ali was will continue to ring loud throughout centuries. His legacy will forever be solidified, and he will for as long as this world remains, be loved and admired for living his truth.
And so, with love and admiration we bid adieu to the Greatest Of All Time rumble young man rumble...
“I ain’t draft dodging. I ain’t burning no flag. I ain’t running to Canada. I’m staying right here. You want to send me to jail? Fine, you go right ahead. I’ve been in jail for 400 years. I could be there for 4 or 5 more, but I ain’t going no 10,000 miles to help murder and kill other poor people. If I want to die, I’ll die right here, right now, fightin’ you, if I want to die. You my enemy, not no Chinese, no Vietcong, no Japanese. You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice. You my opposer when I want equality. Want me to go somewhere and fight for you? You won’t even stand up for me right here in America, for my rights and my religious beliefs. You won’t even stand up for my rights here at home.”