Muhammad Ali Dead at Age 74
Muhammad Ali died today at age 74.
This news destroyed me. I mean, the impact this man had on the world went so far beyond the boxing ring. He was a man who stood on his principles, who knew how to fight in and out of the ring, a man of the type of courage and swagger you dont see these days. He was a champ for the people – not for the money or for the fame like athletes of today.
He was like a Black superhero to me as a kid, and every great fighter regardless of weight class is compared to him in some way. Muhammad Ali was a warrior in spirit and in the flesh. I mean, who the hell gets their jaw broken in round two, and then fights for 10 MORE ROUNDS?!
Yea, he lost by decision, but that was only the second loss in his career up until then. (If you dont know, I’m talking about his 1973 match in my hometown of San Diego against Ken Norton).
The net is full of facts and stats on Muhammad Ali in the ring, but, this post will be my salute to Muhammad Ali, the warrior beyond the ring.
“I met two black soldiers in the airport, and they said champ it takes a lot of guts to do what you’re doing. I told them brother you just don’t know. If you knew your chances of coming home with no arms, no legs, no eyes. Fighting Asian brothers in their own country, and they never lynched you, they never called you Nigger. They never put dogs on you, they never killed your leaders. You go and shoot people that haven’t done anything to you, and as soon as you get home you won’t be able to find a job” –Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali and the Nation of Islam
“I’m a Muslim. I’ve been a Muslim for 20 years. . . . You know me. I’m a boxer. I’ve been called the greatest. People recognize me for being a boxer and a man of truth. I wouldn’t be here representing Islam if it were terrorist. . . . I think all people should know the truth, come to recognize the truth. Islam is peace.”
Muhammad Ali speaking on September 21, 2001 at a fundraiser for victims of the WTC and Pentagon attacks
Malcolm and Muhammad Ali shared a special relationship, even up until Malcolm’s excommunication from the nation. When the two were together, it was hard to tell who was a bigger fan of who!
Ali is stripped of his title in April, for refusing the military draft on religious grounds. He spent three years out of the ring, fighting overseas and developing a closer relationship with the Nation of Islam and the civil rights movement.
In His Own Words: Muhammad Ali Quotes
- “Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.”
- “We have one life; it soon will be past; what we do for God is all that will last.”
- “Wisdom is knowing when you can’t be wise.”
- “To be able to give away riches is mandatory if you wish to possess them. This is the only way that you will be truly rich.”
- “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”
- “Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee. Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.”
- “My way of joking is to tell the truth. That’s the funniest joke in the world.”
- “Love is a net that catches hearts like a fish.”
- “Silence is golden when you can’t think of a good answer.”
- “If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize.”
- “Frazier is so ugly he should donate his face to the US Bureau of Wild Life.”
- “I’m the most recognized and loved man that ever lived cuz there weren’t no satellites when Jesus and Moses were around, so people far away in the villages didn’t know about them.”
- “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.”
- “A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he’ll never crow. I have seen the light and I’m crowing.”
- “Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams — they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do — they all contain truths.”
- “Prejudice comes from being in the dark; sunlight disinfects it.”
- “Ain’t no reason for me to kill nobody in the ring.”
- “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.”
- “I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.”
- “People don’t realize what they had till it’s gone. Like President Kennedy – nobody like him. Like The Beatles, there will never be anything like them. Like my man, Elvis Presley – I was the Elvis of boxing.”
- “It’s hard to be humble, when you’re as great as I am.”
- “Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.”
- “That all you got, George?” – What Ali whispered into George Foreman’s ear in a late round clinch during the Rumble in the Jungle.
- “It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”
- “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them: A desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
- “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”
- “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.”
- “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
- “If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.”
- “Eat your words! Eat your words! I am the greatest.”
- Muhammad Ali shouting at reporters who had dismissed him as a loudmouth and a fake before his fight with Sonny Liston.
- “I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.”
- “It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I just beat people up.”
- “It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself.”
- “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
- “The man who has no imagination has no wings.”
- “Be loud, be pretty and keep their black-hatin’ asses in their chairs.”
- Muhammad Ali
- “Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn’t choose it, and I didn’t want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name – it means beloved of God – and I insist people use it when speaking to me and of me.”
- “What’s my name, fool? What’s my name?” (What Ali kept yelling while winning a 1967 decision against Ernie Terrell, who had insisted on calling him Cassius Clay.)
- “I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world.”