Last Saturday morning, the world awoke to the sad news that Muhammad Ali had lost his final fight. Social Media has been abuzz as people mourn and pay their respects to this American hero.
He will be remembered for his amazing boxing career, where he amassed a record of 56-5 and remains the only three-time lineal world heavyweight champion winning titles in ‘64, ‘74, and ‘78.
Ali’s trash talking was legendary but, in my opinion, it was what he did outside ring that made him truly great. The Champ was an outspoken humanitarian and freedom fighter against racism. As a world renowned athlete, he used the spotlight not to flaunt his money, cars or houses but to address the oppression of humanity.
What intrigued me the most was Ali’s uncompromising standards and principles. He was drafted to fight in the Vietnam War but refused to go, stating in part:
“My conscience won't let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me n****r, they never lynched me, they didn't put no dogs on me, and they didn't rob me of my nationality ... How can I shoot them poor people?”
After his refusal, he was stripped of the championship and exiled from boxing for the next three years -- during the prime of his life. But he came back and again ascended the heights.
Thank you, Champ, for showing us how to value humanity and fight oppression.
I’m Joe Mitchell, and this is my perspective