Muhammad Ali: An unexpected inspiration
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.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.