Born on this day in 1942, Muhammad Ali faced unparalleled frontiers. Claude Abrams hailed The Greatest
LIFE is a journey of self-discovery, realized through our experiences and relationships, but most searched for by showing courage and fearlessness.
Muhammad Ali faced limits almost like any other man. He fought the odds, stood firm while most of them ran and didn’t compromise on his beliefs for what could have been more comfortable and less complicated.
In the late 1960s, he was one of the most despised men in America for confronting the most powerful country in the world when he refused to show support for the war in Vietnam and against communism.
But Ali, who was only in his twenties, was not indulged in the tide of hostility – calls to be a traitor, risks to his family’s safety – and the threat of imprisonment and the withdrawal of his world heavyweight title.
He is now probably the most famous and acclaimed athlete of all time. He is respected not only in his homeland, but everywhere.
The world, not just boxing, was lucky to have him. Even fainted by his Parkinson’s disease, Ali retained a remarkable and incomparable presence.
However, I always wondered why a very beautiful and imposing man is drawn to a sport that compromises his intermediate features or how a fighter is so generously blessed with defensive skills and extraordinary reflexes as I ever had to suck so many punches to the head.
Those who insist that Ali’s profession has nothing to do with his condition may strongly disagree. But when I watch his grueling fights against Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, George Foreman, Leon Spinks and, in particular, Larry Holmes, and then think of his 61 fights, concluding when Ali was nearing 40, all the hard training and sparring with every Test, no There is no doubt that boxing taught Muhammad a harsh lesson.
Even Ali, such a smart boxer, a quick thinker, brilliantly quick and ridiculously brave, couldn’t dodge that blow.
In the ring he had amazing stamina, could hit really well, throw superb righthands, hook, and compound at amazing speed at times. But it wasn’t a big punch. Usually, he has to call dozens of times as he might need a foreman only once. He fought for more than 10 years with bad hands.
Ali rarely attacked the body as well, he was also a pro at breaking the flow of an opponent’s attack and wasn’t always exciting to watch. But he was an extraordinary showman, charismatic in a world of his own.
Was Muhammad Ali really the greatest? There were better boxers, harder boxers, faster movers and those who competed longer and had more success.
Some would argue, too, that no one can take a punch like Ali. But I think Ali’s extraordinary healing powers are beyond his endurance.
For me, Ali was not the greatest boxer of all time, because he often liked to show off. but he I was The greatest fighter in the ring and the boxer who made the greatest impression outside of him.
Life outside the world they excel in is a struggle for most boxers when they retire. Ali suffered competition withdrawals, but no lack of interest occurred.
Sure, he fought for a very long time and against very strong men in fierce spells often. He should have resigned after beating Frazier in 1975. Yet he had another six years.
The ring was his stage and pulpit. He was as comfortable with crowds and people as he was with his own skin.
But he made mistakes, like any man. He said and did things years ago that he might not agree with today. But Ali always defended his beliefs.
Whether he was in the ring or outside, Ali was unwaveringly tough. But he was also kind, merciful, pleasant and generous.
He entered not only the lives of those who knew or met him, but also people who lived in distant lands, who believed in different gods, spoke different languages and had conflicting political views.
Muhammad Ali was not just a boxer. He was an artist and a warrior for humanity. He was the world’s first true champion.
We may have looked at him in his later life and felt sad, but only because we compare what we see with what he was like in his prime.
How can a man who speaks fluently be now verbally weak?
How could a man who in his youth stood so elegantly, tall and shining bodily, turn into a capricious old man?
How could Ali, who was once witty, cheerful, charismatic, and wonderful, become so expressionless?
It doesn’t really matter though, because Ali was happy. His life changed. He is no longer a boxer. Humble, selfless and courageous, he rolled with the punches and thus offered us another lesson.
Since he was in the ring, never accepting defeat, Ali lived boldly without restraint. His form, movements and means of communication changed, but he remained the same and an exceptional person at that time.
No boxer has ever rocked the world like Ali and, dare I say it, he will do so again.