Muhammad Ali: An unexpected inspiration

Published: October 14, 2011

At the age of 22, Ali was the youngest boxer of his time to take the title from a reigning heavyweight champion. PHOTO: AFP

I’ve never been involved in a proper fist-fight, but somehow I’ve found inspiration in the form of a former professional boxer. If that isn’t ironic enough, do take note of the fact that I generally find boxing to be a cruel sport. No offense to anyone connected to boxing, but isn’t the objective of each bout to explicitly beat your opponent down to a pulp? It’s beyond me really. What isn’t beyond me, though, is admiration for one of the greatest boxing legends of all time: Muhammad Ali.

Ali provides two-fold inspiration. Firstly, he was quite the fighter! One only needs to see footage of his first heavyweight championship bout with Sonny Liston back in 1964 to be in awe of Ali.

Before the fight, Ali was a heavy underdog but claimed that he would knock out ‘that ugly old bear’ Liston by the seventh round. As it turned out, Liston bowed out before the seventh round even got underway and Ali was crowned champion. At the age of 22, he was the youngest boxer of his time to take the title from a reigning heavyweight champion.

“I shook up the world!” declared an emphatic Ali.

The second inspirational aspect to Ali relates to the way he conducted himself in his personal life. Ali was never afraid to speak his mind or to stand up for the things he believed in. The most prominent display of these qualities came when Ali refused to be drafted into the US Army for service during the Vietnam War.

“I ain’t got no quarrel with no Vietcong. No Vietcong ever called me nigger,” Ali said, to justify his decision.

Following his refusal, Ali was stripped of  his heavyweight title and found guilty of draft evasion in court, leading to a five-year prison sentence. He didn’t take back his words or change his decision, though. Instead, Ali appealed in court, regained his boxing license, won back his heavyweight title and went on to leave behind an enduring legacy as one of the greatest fighters of all time.

Ali, you did indeed shake up the world. Some of us are still reeling from the impact.


Talha Nadeem

A sub-editor at the sports desk of The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • no

    what is this about ??? didn’t you find something else to write ??? or you could write in more detail… Recommend

  • zalim singh

    Yes sir, he did shake up the world. He was my all time hero. They dont make men like him anymore.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I have no idea what prompted you to write on Muhammad Ali but I sure am glad that you did. On top of that you have done an excellent job of capturing a small piece of the essence of what makes Muhammad Ali the icon, the legend that he is.
    You could have written 10,000 words on this and it still would have been insufficient.
    Well done !!!Recommend

  • Fah

    Muhammad ali.. the legend.. love himRecommend

  • bewildered

    i’m still scratching my head thinking what made you write this? i’m sure there is a lot more to this person than an inspired Muhammad Ali fan. This is definitely not the caliber a sub-editor at Tribune should be aspiring to. This piece could have been written by a fifth grader and been great. Bot not here. Disappointed more than disgusted Recommend

  • yousaf

    @no:-AALEE as he used to be called in those good old days needs no “details”,you seem to be a young man and may not be aware of what an inspiration Ali was for us old-timers during our days of youth.I myself during college days was a petty boxer and loved Ali like many other millions.The moment this great man entered the ring the world went mad.He is the only man in American history to have looked straight in the eyes of law that made mandatory for all eligible Americans not to refuse the draft to be sent to vietnam or anywhere else to fight,Ali on moral grounds refused to go which was later endorsed as a right decision of him,by courts of his country.Ali was,is and will always remain a symbol of rightfulnessRecommend