This weekend America lost its greatest sports icon ever. Muhammad Ali passed away at the age of 74 on Friday. In the sports world there is always a debate of who is “the greatest” or best but in boxing it is hardly ever debated that is was the 3 time champion Ali. His greatness was not just a function of him being a boxer but more the boxing was just a way for us to introduced to this phenomenal person.
The First Amendment of the Constitution grants us the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion, not too many people exercised these rights as much and as well as the champ. He used his speech to promote his fights and to speak up for social justice. He was proud Muslim in a country that new fully embraced Islam as a part of its religious community.
Muhammad Ali was a special man for a special time in this country’s history. He died as a man that we admired for his conviction and his willingness do what he felt was right. We loved his unwavering confidence in his ability to perform in the ring. Although that conviction was seen as being a traitor at the time by a lot of people and was not respected. That confidence was considered arrogance and people rooted for the man to be humbled by someone.
Were they really upset with is bravado in the ring or was his pride in his blackness that rubbed people the wrong way? One thing is for sure is that the Champ was an inspiration to people all over the world.
The footprint of Muhammad Ali can be felt throughout all sports and not just boxing. He is one of the reasons why we expect athletes to take a stand on social issues. He is the inventor of what we now call swag. If you watch professional wrestling one thing we all expect from a top level talent is the ability to craft a good promo. As promoters say you need to talk them into the arena, “put butts in the seats”. No one ever packed them in better by talking than Muhammad.
Ali whom says that he credits a lot of style from watching legendary wrestler Gorgeous George and realized that whether you loved or hated him that as long as he struck a chord you would spend money. That influence he got from George he spread to the likes of Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair and even John Cena. When Cena walks into the ring and yells “The Champ is here” that all from The Greatest.
Muhammad Ali was no stranger to professional wrestling as he got involved in a blockbuster pay per view match against Antonio Inoki and had face-offs with the late great Gorilla Monsoon at Madison Square Garden. When Vince McMahon needed that extra push to sell the first Wrestlemania he called on Ali to be a special guest referee in the main event.
Ali’s life is too extraordinary for any one article, book or movie to encapsulate. A man who was the consummate entertainer that would win any room. Whether he was on a late night talk show, preparing for a huge fight or bringing awareness to a cause he owned the room.
Ali’s life is too extraordinary for any one article, book or movie to encapsulate. A man who was the consummate entertainer that would win any room. Whether he was on a late night talk show, preparing for a huge fight or bringing awareness to a cause he owned the room. Even after losing his gift to speak he put a face on the Parkinson’s disease and its debilitating effects. Muhammad Ali lived a full life leaving this world better than he found it.
Keith B. Holt
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