It was Saturday morning here in Manila when I first saw a link posted on Bleacher Report’s Facebook page that Muhammad Ali is in his critical state. Later that day, I was on my laptop trying to find inspiration for something to write and I was thinking of a way express my true feelings to someone, until I switched on our TV and streamed on the channels then I saw a headline on Aljazeera that says “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali has already passed away.
The next day, I didn’t really know how to react towards the photo that Michael J. Fox posted on his Twitter account, in which he wore a boxing gear posing as if he is about to punch Ali, while Muhammad Ali was just standing defending himself by holding his head. Basically it shows two people battling Parkinson’s disease but unfortunately, the other just ended his fight.
I was not born yet when Muhammad Ali proclaimed that he is “The Greatest” and also when he said the immortal words “Float like a butterfly sting like a bee” in an interview while he is at the gym — training. And I was not born yet when he beat Sonny Liston and George Foreman in different occasion and even when he lost to Joe Frazier especially when he beat Frazier in ‘Thrilla in Manila’ held at the Araneta Coliseum on October 1, 1975.
As a kid growing up, I got to know Muhammad Ali as a fighter that a gamer can play in Fight Night on PS2 or Xbox. It didn’t matter to me if I win or lose with Muhammad Ali, because back then, my only goal was to make a good hurl of combos and give that knockout punch.
As I grew up, I got to know more about Muhammad Ali, as more than just a game character that you get to play in a video game or watch in a highlight reel on YouTube from his best fights against Liston, Foreman and Frazier. Because like Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King; he was also an advocate of civil rights during the civil rights movement, in and out of the ring.
In his prime and the height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, his sporting counterparts in each sporting league in North America were also fighting for their rights and not just climbing their way up.
Jackie Robinson is starting to pave the pave way for African-Americans to join professional sporting leagues, breaking baseball’s color barrier in April of 1947 when he was called by then Brooklyn Dodgers to play in the Major League. But this won’t be as steady as it seemed.
In those days, African-American a basketball player like Bill Russell had to play his best in both ends of the court and if it wasn’t for Boston Celtics legendary head coach Red Auerbach, the Celtics may not have built that Celtic dynasty from the1950s to the 1960s, and many others would soon follow in each sport and in each decade that came by.
It has been said that he refused to fight in the Vietnam War, because he does want to be involved in a war that America should not have fought. Since America was fighting the threat that is communism at that time. Sooner or later America ended up losing lives until it gave up in the early 1970s.
Ali paid the price for his refusal which cost him his world title and he was prohibited from fighting, until he got the green light to fight again then eventually reclaim the title that was deprived of him.
Muhammad Ali is a larger-than-life figure. He is beyond sports.
He did not just inspire fighters that wanted to fight like him and become world heavyweight champion. Muhammad Ali is a life coach himself and we just don’t know it. Even if we do not hire his services, just like how Bruce Lee is often quoted for saying “Be water, my friend” or how others also quote Biblical verses.
Ali and his quotes serve as motivation in all aspects. More important is that it leads us to a certain perspective that we must understand the best way that we can.
“The man who has no imagination has no wings.”
As an aspiring writer, I try my best to imagine, and create ideas for me to get that wings Muhammad Ali speak of.
I do not just want to write with what I’m really capable of doing right now, since I started writing for this WordPress account. I try my best with my best friend and former EIC to start up ideas, and be able to write short stories that I hope to finish for a certain season later this year.
More important is that we must imagine something that would really give meaning to our lives for us to fly with those wings.
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
True enough because Muhammad Ali as boxer has already maximized that. As a humanitarian he has done more than enough through for the marginalized anywhere in the world that made his stay worthwhile. Most important is the help that he provided in finding the cure for Parkinson’s disease.
As ordinary people, no matter what the line of work is, we must serve everyone to the best of our abilities so we can really make our stay on earth truly great.
“The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”
In connection with the previous quote, we must always have a different view of the world as we grow old so we can truly pay for our rent here on earth.
We should not just view the world differently at fifty simply because we aged and reached that particular age. We must always change our views or perspective. So we cannot waste the remaining years that we have before some of us reach fifty.
I’m twenty seven years away from fifty. I do not just want to waste my time and life by writing for this website. Because there will come a time, that I may have to stop and do something else. In which I have to discover for myself along the way.
“I know where I am going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.”
This quote from The Greatest just brought me back to the moment when I was deciding on what I really want to take up before I set foot on college. Also in deciding on what I really want to study in college. Then my issue of shifting or transition from being a psychology major to journalism major.
Other than that, this is also standing up for what you really know is right. It’s giving one’s self that freedom on what they really wanted to be. Or what really want to do with their life.
This is also reflective of how Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali when he decided to change his spiritual belief to Islam in the early sixties. Another is his decision not to join the army after he was drafted for Vietnam.
Lastly, the truth in that quote is that Ali’s war is in the ring, not in Vietnam. More important according him, Cassius Clay is his slave name and as a citizen of a free country like the United States, he had the freedom of changing his spiritual and political belief.
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
He did take a risk and again it’s his decision not to join the army after the draft.
He is more than courageous to trash talk before and after his fights, because his fighting style truly back up his trash talk.
He is the grand daddy of trash talking I must say.
The trash talks of UFC fighter Connor McGregor to undefeated boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. (vice-versa) in any medium are nothing. Even Baron Geisler’s trash talk towards Kiko Matos here in the Philippines, whether it is scripted or not are nothing to what Ali has said to anyone that he has fought throughout his career.
With all the trash talk that he has said, he did accomplish a lot in the ring.
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
I was not really going to include this because it’s overly used, like some song to become a soundtrack for a movie.
Ali truly lived up to these words because of his hand speed, agility, and footwork that many have tried to replicate particularly, Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Unlike Mayweather Jr., Ali does not give a lot of hugs the way Mayweather Jr. does when he fought Manny Pacquiao until his last fight. More important is the punching power.
This quote is not only applicable in the context of sports particularly boxing and mixed martial arts. This quote can also be applicable to any team sport like basketball and volleyball. For teams to have that Muhammad Ali state of mind, of course not to the point where players also have to do the trash talking and punching towards their opponent in each game.
Outside sports, we can apply this towards love for both boys and girls. Who seemed to look like wallflowers then one day they become dressed so good, and so beautiful that you can’t recognize them.
That’s really floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee.
With that, may he inspire more people not only people who dream to become world champion in any sport but also in all aspects of life.
REST IN POWER