Muhammad Ali is More than An Athlete

Photo by Attentie Attentie on Unsplash

The story has been told a million times. Muhammad Ali is the Greatest of All Time, one of the greatest figure in sports. He fought 61 times and won 56 of them all. In fact, 37 of them are won by knockout! That’s more than half of his win — and some of the knockouts were pretty phenomenal. Who can forget that sucker punch to Sonny Liston?

But he’s so, so much more than that. He’s my hero. He’s a lot of other people’s hero too. Because he’s so much more than just an athlete…Muhammad Ali greatest bouts with life actually comes outside of the rings and when the bell actually stops.

His former name was Cassius Clay — or as he would call it, his slave name. A white man’s name. He’s not afraid to antagonize the white establishment, he’s not afraid to throw away white supremacy and break through everything — every barrier there is, every racism he’s experienced, every bigoted opinions he’s faced. Ali said, and I quote, “I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.” Ali has never had a problem with saying whatever he wants, and that has been known for years. He recklessly taunts his opponents on interviews and on bouts, he called out the people that gave him a hard time, and he’s brave. Hella brave.

Ali did not want to partake in the Vietnam War, and he refused the draft. In an instantaneous effect, he became the most hated man in the United States. Although not many also defended him, including the likes of Jerry Izenberg and Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, the final haymaker had already thrown upright to Ali’s face. He got stripped off of his titles. Now you have to know, for a boxer, this meant everything. This meant every drop of your sweat and every tick of blood on the ring got taken away from you. But Ali didn’t stop there.

Ali has been estimated to feed more than 22 million people across the world. He declared support to various activism, and not afraid to rally and protest marches. For someone who has been stripped off of his titles, you might think this is the perfect time to stop; you don’t want it to happen again, you don’t want it to happen to your hero either. But he perseveres. He keep on believing on his fights; those that happen from the ringside of life. Now don’t get me wrong, Ali is a beast on the ring — but he’s also a beast off the ring. He made it much more than just a sports; he made it a statement.

Now there’s not to say he made through it all without catching dirty smudges on his legacy. His remarriages and illicit extramarital relationship, his brash words that hurt others ( it even got into Joe Frazier’s head one time ), and maybe some others. But to put a blind eye unto what he has done is also wrong. He’s the Greatest; not without some smudges, but also not without some gold plating — both are spread across his long legacy. Muhammad Ali is one of the few that made the world turn their eyes and adore him. So much, that his name remain known globally years and years after he has passed away. He gave us so much and we can never pay him back. He throw so much punches it is impossible to not notice his actions and words. He dodged and swerved so much it is inevitable to not see him elude danger firsthand. He flew like like a graceful butterfly and stung like a deadly bee.

He shook up the world.

He is Muhammad Ali.

Bonus: My two-piece comic about Muhammad Ali below!

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