June 5, 2016

Portrait of a true legend

image courtesy of Today

Mohammad Ali: January 17, 1942-June 3, 2016


His immortal words will resonate with millions forever:
"I'll be the ghost that haunts boxing." 
"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, his hands can't hit what his eyes can't see."
"It will be a killer and a chiller and a thriller, when I get the gorilla in Manilla." 
These and many others have been associated with the three-time heavyweight champ as he taunts his opponents to the ring.

There are few lessons I took away from this true legend:

He was fearless

He rose to fame during the civil rights era, in the time of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, famously changing his name and converting to Islam, denouncing segregation, racism and the Vietnamese war. His in-your-face attitude both amused and angered his audience. He was quick-witted and loud. Even when he faced prison, his boxing license and heavyweight titles were stripped, his strong convictions would not let him falter. He would often taunt his opponents to the ring, many, undisputed heavy weight champions during his era (Joe Frazier and George Foreman comes to mind). His taunts became a self-fulfilling prophecy. The lesson here? Believe in yourself. Courage is not the absence of fear, he'd later admit. Always stand for what you believe in, especially yourself. His strong convictions and courage is the reason above all that he truly became a Legend. He was convinced he was The Greatest, The Champ. He became #theGOAT - The Greatest Of All Time.

He had a lot of heart

He might have been brash and brazen on and off the ring, but he was a kind and gentle soul who wanted world peace. Most passionate people are often high-stung on their own causes because they believe in the greater good. He was very outspoken against injustice in an era when he could easily be annihilated just like his fellow counterparts. He continued to fight for justice and speak up for those that didn't have a voice, working with many countries and dignitaries around the world long after his boxing days and crippling illness. He set an example that many could use today, especially those bestowed with fame. 
"For all kids and people around the world -- if you want to be The Greatest -- stand up for each other. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves and always be true to yourself. When you reach the mountain top, try not to look down on any one. Treat all people with kindness and respect. No matter how famous we get, no matter how wealthy we become, it is only the heart that makes us great or small. Remember the responsibilities that come with fame. There will be little boys and girls looking up to you. Lead them well." — Mohammad Ali.

 As his soul departs this earth, he is eternally immortalized in all of us.

Rest In Peace, Mohammad Ali — The Greatest Of All Time.


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