A gorgeous beast unleashed in the ring, Muhammad Ali, was one of the most beautiful athletes who lived. With a strong body, he had the swiftest stride a man that size could have. He declared to the world how great he was ever before he proved the same.
A simple incident as his bicycle being stolen lit an anger in Ali never to have his things stolen again. And he joined boxing under Joe Elsby Martin when he was 12. At 18, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics and other hundreds of amateur matches. At the age of 21, Ali shocked the world by proclaiming his first world title by beating the dreaded Sonny Liston before the match's 7th round. The most astonishing part is that Ali predicted the match's outcome even before the match had even started! From then on, Ali received nine world titles becoming one of the 20th century's greatest athletes.
But apart from his courage on the boxing ring, Ali was unflinching when it came to racial segregation and oppression of black people in America. In 1967, he was asked to join the U.S army to fight in the Vietnam War. But he took a bold stand and refused to fight. The reasons he cited for his refusal was that he wouldn't shoot any Black people who were his own brothers in a much broader sense. Ali paid a hefty price for this decision and was stripped of his world titles, was loathed by people and often called as a disgrace for America. He was also banned from competing in World Championships for this decision and was convicted for evasion. But later in his life, he was applauded for this very bold and daring decision of a black liberal man, who was far from even being accepted in the white-dominated world in those times.
One of Ali's most important fight was Fight of the century in 1970 at Atlanta against Joe Frazier. After losing to him in the 15th round, Ali faced his first defeat in his professional boxing career. But he wasn't defeated the next time he met Joe. He took back his title lost Frazier in 1974 at Madison Square Garden, New York. Thereafter, there were many wins and a few losses in Ali's life before he retired at 39 from professional boxing. He was later diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which progressively deteriorated his health and took his life at 74.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
This was Ali's quote when he was about to fight his first international fight against Sonny Liston, who was a very dreaded champion. In this quote, he implies that man should have two dual personas, one which is relaxed and pretty like a bee and another that stings like a bee when needed.
Don't count the days, make the days count.
Our days might be many, but there may not be many significant deeds done in it. However, few days significant deeds done in it make life much better. Our time must not be counted, but the work done at that time must be.
I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.
Working hard is not easy; you won't even enjoy it. But giving up just for the sole reason of enjoying a little is not worth it, it backfires! The more we sweat before the actual fight, the lesser we lose blood in the actual one is a message Ali wants to give to the world.
The man who has no imagination has no wings.
Without a vision, a man even with infinite potential can go nowhere. Without direction, even the best of us are clueless. A vision is mandatory to reach somewhere, or we'll end up losing our talent over nothing.
It's hard to be humble when you are as great as I am.
Humbleness is a human quality which reveals our true character. Ali was one of the greatest athletes in the world. And this stardom and success does get one to take simple things granted in life. But quite ironic to this statement, Ali was a very humble person who stood for black people and against religious or any other kind of oppression in the world.
I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.
Muhammad Ali believed in himself even before he started the match. He was very bearish when it came to matching prediction. He believed in himself like no other would. And that one fine quality takes a man to the heights of success.
He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
Courage is a quality of winners. Cowards and safe players cease to achieve anything remarkable. To run from risks is to run from big accomplishments. Taking risk is to take a chance - an unpredictable unknown chance which holds more chances to win than playing safe.
There are no pleasures in a fight, but some of my fights have been a pleasure to win.
Out of humility, Ali once said this quote which means metaphorically that hardworking isn't a pleasure-seeking venture but winning sure is. And to win you have to do what isn't pleasurable.
They did what they thought was right and I did what I thought was right.
During the time Muhammad Ali refused to fight in the Vietnam War, he stood firm on his decision that he was right. And each man should do whatever he feels is right. Everyone must have their say and a right to choose their opinion.
I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky, my name not yours. My religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.
When Ali was a champion, there prevailed much racism and religious disparity in the U.S. So much so that the boxer had to change his name. But boldly, he later identified himself as a black and a Muslim and got used to it!
Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up.
Racism prevailed very unobscured in America the time Muhammad Ali was a professional boxer. People had not forgotten the fact that black men were brought as slaves in their nations, and some orthodox still treated them unequally and oppressed them. Boxing which predominantly was a sport were black men participated; the white men watched them as if they were a source of entertainment and not humans.
I may not talk perfect white talk-type English, but I give you wisdom.
Muhammad Ali very well knew that he differed from most Americans due to his way of speaking, colour and religion. But he claimed that he had the wisdom to offer. Thus, we can get a message here that wisdom can come from anywhere. It can come from places or people you wouldn't have considered before.
A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years.
We learn from our experiences by changing perspectives as we grow up. But if we have the same perspective all the while as we turn from a teenager to an adult and further then, we've learned nothing. In fact, our time so far has been wasted.
I'm not afraid of dying. I have faith; I do everything I can to live my life right; and I believe that dying will bring me closer to god.
The fear of death weighs on the human heart more than anything else. So is the thought of death and the questions of death. But Ali is unafraid of death as far as he is doing everything right. And death for him will be nothing but a path to god.
Live everyday like it's your last, because someday you're going to be right.
To be in the present is the message we get from this quote. When we understand that any moment can be our last, we begin to value each and every moment. And someday we're certainly going to die, so why not live every day like it's the last day?
I don't count my sit-ups; I only start counting when it starts hurting because they're the only ones that count.
Here we understand the extremity of Ali's training. Where most men stop when it hurts, Ali just starts. The edge he gets over others is shown in such kind of habits.
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.
Being prepared is what determines our success. Success is determined when we train or work for the thing we really want to. Winners are decided far before the match even begins. Success is pre-determined by our hard-work.
It is lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.
Where there is no fear, there is faith. And vice versa is also true. When people have fear in their hearts, they're afraid of meeting new challenges and quit. Whereas, people who believe in themselves meet challenges with open arms and eventually win.
Service to others is the rent you play for your room here on earth.
To live on this earth, to get free resources, good people to love, enjoy and be happy we must pay the rent says Muhammad Ali. We must give back to mankind; we must show humility and humanity. And we must work for the well being of everyone we can.
It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.
We feel that the obstacles in front of us are so challenging and difficult that we stop or quit in the middle. But it's something inside of us that makes us quit; maybe our cowardice or lack of faith or laziness. It's not something around but within us, which is stopping us.
Banner Image Credits: Getty Images