Monday, June 6, 2016

A Guest Post: Muhammad Ali: A Real Man and Human!

As an avid athlete, Coach and very knowledgeable person, in regard to sports and  insight into athletic figures, I often rely on my husband to help me understand the nuances of the athletic, sports world.  It is within that vain, that I share my husband's post below, which he shared on his blog   Purple WorldView.  I  am pleased to share this article with N.I.C.E. readers as Muhammad Ali was truly the greatest and I think  quite "Pretty" as he would say.  We also have to recognize that Natural Fro that he always sported, so we know that he understood that Natural Is Cool Enough.  Enjoy the piece below as he gives a perspective on him that helps us understand his humanity and that through the wonderful example of Muhammad Ali, we can all strive for greatness! 

Sunday, June 5, 2016
Muhammad Ali: A Real Man and Human
No other athlete or celebrity has affected the world more powerfully than Muhammad Ali.  No superstar has held fast to his/her beliefs so steadfastly when threatened with the full force and power of the United States government.  His words and actions profoundly affected me throughout my entire life both in my formative and adult years.  I will be forever grateful for being blessed with having the opportunity to watch, listen to, and admire Muhammed Ali.

Ali's boxing prowess is unquestioned.  He was, undoubtedly, one of the the most talented boxers who has ever lived.  No other man ever possessed hos combination of size, speed, power, grace, and defensive skill in the ring.  Despite his significant physical stature, a full 6'3" and 215 pounds, Ali moved around the ring with the fluidity and ease of much smaller man.  His feet carried him through fights as if he were wearing roller skates and his hand quickness made it difficult to count or even see his punches.  His ability to "Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee," allowed him to change boxing matches from pedantic, barbaric fights observed mainly by boxing fans located near the bout venue into world-wide entertainment events watched by both boxing aficionados and people who knew little to nothing about the sport but who were captivated by Ali's personality and persona.  As a boxer, Ali's skill ranged powerfully from an ultra-quick, hard-to-hit, "Ali-Shufflin'", double jabbin' machine to a center-of-the-ring, toe-toe, hay maker-throwing, "Rope-A-Dope", "I'm just tougher than you are," pugilist.

But my greatest memories are of Ali as poetic, linguistic genius with spectacular comedic timing, the ultimate gift of gab, and the personality, looks, and charm to captivate and capture the full attention of the audience.  His quotes are laugh-out-loud funny and yet they touch your inner core with a poignancy, honesty, and insight coming from the mouth of an African-American man, born in the the Jim Crow Days in Louisville, Kentucky possessing only a high school degree (that the school awarded begrudgingly due to the amount of class time missed while participating in U.S. Amateur Boxing Association events).  I'm pretty sure that Ali didn't actually invent trash-talkin' but he sure perfected the art form!

"If you even dream of beating me you'd better wake up and apologize."

"I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick; I'm so mean I make medicine sick."

"It's not bragging if you can back it up."

NOBODY ever talked more or better trash than Ali and it came completely naturally to him from his early days as the "Louisville Lip" to trading barbs with fighters, national sports reporters, and talk show hosts from countries all across the globe.  Ali could not be out talked or talked down to.  He deftly answered all questions from experienced interviewers, professors, and students, and always retained full control of the conversation regardless of the number and quality of the attempts to wrest control from his hands.  Ali was the bravest man I've seen in my lifetime.  Raised in the Jim Crow South, Ali always spoke out strongly against any and all racism, oppression, injustice, and inequality he witnessed.  He spoke freely about the hardships and inequities faced by black and other poor people in the U.S. and abroad.  He stated his positions unflinchingly regardless of the power and prestige possessed by the people and organizations his remarks were directed toward.  (Remember, we're talking about U.S. during the 60's and 70's here).   

"I know I got it made while the masses of black people are catchin' hell, but as long as they ain't free, I ain't free."

"Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change."

"I got no quarrel with them Vietcong."

That last quote caused him to have to fight all the way to the Supreme Court to defend his right to conscientiously objecting to joining the U.S. Armed Forces to fight in the Vietnam War.  As usual, Ali won although the case, and the boxing ban that accompanied it, did steal a full three of Ali's prime boxing years and money earning years).  Millions of people, fans and haters of Ali, know all about the boisterous, clowning Ali but far too few know the pensive, thoughtful, wise Ali.  Check out these deep. thought provoking quotes:

"It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe."

"I've made my share of mistakes along the way, but if I have changed even one life for the better, I haven't lived in vain."

"I know where I'm 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."

"A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life."

When it is all said and done, Ali's humanitarian spirit and beliefs far outweigh his prodigious list of boxing accomplishments.  Ali was comfortable around every person in every country and he possessed the rare ability to make the people around him feel comfortable and cared for.  My life, and the lives of millions of others, have been and will continue to be blessed by Muhammed Ali's thoughts, words, and actions.  It does not matter if you were lucky enough to see him live and in person or if you are introduced to him via video and audio tape snippets, Muhammad Ali's spirit and love of all mankind transcends all barriers of time and space.

RIP Champ!  You were, are, and always will be, the Greatest of All Time!.