Down goes Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)

It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.

Known for his clever witticisms as well as his undying determination in the ring, Muhammad Ali, the legend of legends, has moved on from this life. 

We remember him for his brash confidence, the way he could destroy an opponents psyche before he ever landed a punch in the ring, for his proclamations of greatness, his refusal to be ordinary, for changing the way we look at ourselves and others, for bucking authority, and for some of the most epic battles the world of boxing will ever know.

I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.

Ali was a poet, a politician, a gentleman, a savage beast, and a humanitarian.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, January 17, 1942, Ali passed away on Friday after being taken to the hospital with respiratory issues due to a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

He was a hero, hated by opponents, and adored by fans who enjoyed the sincere way he brought light to the darkest situations.

The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.

Ali who started boxing at age twelve after his bike was stolen and he vowed to “whoop the behind” of the thief, fought in what many consider to be the toughest era in boxing history and won many of his fights as the underdog.

He was able to pull this off because of discipline to a rigid but well thought out training program and diet. Ali trained six days a week, starting with a 6 mile run in combat style boots at 5:30 in the morning.

I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’

Unfortunately for “the Greatest” most of his suffering came later in life due to the punishment he put himself through to become the champion.

But a true champion he was, and will always be to those who knew him, loved him and followed his life.

After blessing us with some of the greatest quotes and clever nicknames for his opponents, Ali lived out the rest of his days in relative silence, but he was still worshipped by many who admired his style and was given awards and admiration for his work right up until his last days.

I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.

Although he clearly was a devastating fighter, (the three time heavyweight champion had 37 knockouts to go with a record of 56-5), what we admire most about “the Champ,” has little do with what was accomplished in the ring.

We admire the fact that he refused to submit to others opinions on religion, war, boxing and how he should live his life in general.

Because of this he gave many the courage and strength to question the status quo, and to shape their own lives to fit their true feelings and beliefs.

It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.

Ali seemed to know right from the start what he loved and hated, who he was, and who he wanted to be.

It was that strength of mind and character that allowed him to defeat the toughest men of his era and cement himself among the greatest ever.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

Ali was very quick and agile and won many fights with finesse… What he didn’t want you to know, is he could follow all that up with one hell of a wallop.

The fight that changed it all was when he finally fought Sonny Liston, who he dubbed a “big ugly bear” for the heavyweight title as a 7-1 underdog. Ali made Liston’s normally heavy punches look slow as he wore them down with speed, quickness and movement, until the fight was ended in the sixth when Liston said he couldn’t continue due to a shoulder injury.

In their next fight Ali knocked Liston out in the first round then stood over him, yelling, “Get up and fight, sucker!”

If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize.

In a story that was littered by political drama as much as glory in the ring, Ali made many great men suffer for thinking they could beat him.

Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson, Zora Folley, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Leon Spinks and Joe Foreman, where just a few of the names who were submitted by “the Greatest” in his illustrious career.

Each fight was as special as the man himself as he brought a unique flair to every individual fight.

The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.

Ali spent his early years wreaking havoc in and out of the ring.

Since then, he devoted his life to helping promote world peace, civil rights, cross-cultural understanding, interfaith relations, humanitarianism, hunger relief, and the commonality of basic human values.

He worked to not only shed the light on such things as hunger, poverty, and discrimination in our country as well as many others, but he also gave tirelessly of himself by forming and working with numerous charities and organizations in an effort to make a difference.

Silence is golden when you can’t think of a good answer.

After a life in the spotlight, full of meaning and warmth, it would seem the “Louisville Lip” has finally run out of rebuttals.

It is now our time to carry on his “Greatness” to generations to come!

R.I.P Muhammad Ali   (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016)

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