Sometimes I listen to Muhammad Ali's speeches while I work out, he's just so impressive. His confidence and resilience. His passion and work ethic. Ali didn't expect respect to be given freely, so he earned it. Like he says in his speech above, "I will show you how great I am." And that's what he did.
Muhammad Ali was born in the year 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky. His father was a billboard and sign painter and his mother a household domestic. He was first introduced to the idea of boxing at age 12 when a police officer caught him fuming over his stolen bicycle. He told the officer he was going to "whup" the thief; the officer recommended he learn how to box first.
As a descendent of slaves and primarily being of African decent, Ali was passionate about civil rights from an early age. Perhaps the greatest impact he left on this world was not his accomplishments in the ring, though great as they were, but rather his efforts towards creating a more equal mankind.
One thing that I admire about Ali, is that he didn't stop making a difference after his final fight in 1981. Here are a few of his accomplishments in the later years of his life:
- 1981, just as his career was ending Ali talked a man down from jumping off the ninth floor ledge of a building in his city.
- 1984, worked to support Ronald Reagan in his re-election. When asked why he said, "He's keeping God in schools and that's enough."
- 1991, published an oral history of his life.
- Also 1991, traveled to Iraq to negotiate with Saddam Hussein for the release of American hostages.
- 1996, lit the flame for the summer olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.
- 2002, went to Afghanistan as the "U.N. Messenger of Peace".
I believe we all can learn a lot from Muhammad Ali. He stood for what he lived for in and out of the ring.