Muhammad Ali - RIP GOAT
On touching down in the USA a couple weeks ago, I was greeted with the very sad news of the passing of who many believe, myself included - the Greatest Of all Time (GOAT) American boxing superstar and civil rights hero Muhammad Ali.
In the last week or so, the GOAT was laid to rest in his final resting place. Many hall of fame boxers and Hollywood A listers were in attendance with his Pall bearers man like Mile Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Will Smith - to name a few.
I searched for many days trying to find footage of the eulogy tribute from comedian Billy Crystal. In finding the tribute from Crystal, you felt a sense of gratefulness to have witnessed footage of such a beautiful man in Ali.
In paying tribute to Ali, I think about many great moments in the history of boxing, such as the brutal fights between Ali & Frazier, Ali & Foreman - but also comes to mind a recent conversation I had with my great friend Kevin Hines; who told me a story taught by his father about the infamous tale around Sonny Liston 'laying down' in his bout with Ali.
Mr Hines (Patrick) told his boy Kevin, who was going through some particular hard times in his life at the time, 'when faced with tough times in your life, you can be one of two people - Ali or Sonny Liston - in reference to Ali, was to stand & fight; or lie down and & be defeated - not defeated by Ali, but by his own inner demons; his enemy within. In finishing Mr Hines gave a small statue to his boy & said the words; 'Kevin you are in 2ft of water & you are drowning, all you must do is stand'.
To this day, Kevin still proudly displays the wooden ornament amongst his most prized awards & possessions.
It is quite clear that Ali impacted on Kevin, from a young age until this present day.
The reflection of Kevin's story, took me back immediately to the very reason I love being inside the four walls of a boxing gym. Not only did boxing teach me how to hold my hands up ok, it taught me how to win against the inner demons that plague my mind every single day.
It is within these walls of a boxing gym do I get a sense of strength, which holds me in good stead for the outside world.
In tribute to Ali I acknowledge not only the superior athleticism to most boxers of his age, he was revolutionary in ability to make a man miss the target with his coordination, hand-eye speed & footwork.
It was Ali's well documented deflection from the US military when he refused to go to war & his resilience to remain to his word is one of the main reasons I see this man as a hero - a hero in sports & a hero for humanity.
In refusing to go war, Ali stayed true to his morals by saying - he will not go to war to kill a man, and noted, other people of colour whom he had no disagreements with.
Ali, a humanitarian hero, paved the way for many to stand up and be true to their morals, not just because he was a sporting icon around the world - but because he was just a man who remained strong to his moral belief and not let the rest of society sway his decisions.
Their is something in this for all of us!
Liston decided to lie down in the 3 feet of water and lose his battle; Ali chose to not only stand, but he chose to fight, win & lead many millions of people throughout the world on s path to peace.
Rest Easy - GOAT
Cassius Clay, Muhammad Ali