Muhammad Ali The Greatest Gone

Muhammad Ali the Greatest. Gone. The Greatest Of All Time leaves a legacy of triumph, tragedy and courage.  He prophesied many things, but his greatest prophecy was that he shook up the world and he indeed shook up the world.  Watching the funeral procession for the greatest was a moment in time.  He went as he came.   A lightning rod who shook up the world and had millions chanting his name and praises as his hearse made it’s final trip home through Louisville to his final resting place.  Hundreds of thousands lined the streets chanting “Ali, Ali, Ali.”  A sight to be seen.  Never had I seen such a sendoff and in that moment I knew never again would the world send anyone off in such adoration and cheer.  It was a last hooray for a stand up guy, the champ, who shook up the world no doubt.So here for you I breakdown why for me Ali was as he’d profess in his own words truly, “the greatest of all times.”Why Muhammad Ali was the truly greatest has little or nothing to do with his skills in the ring, for me.  While millions of his fans adored him as a boxing legend which he was this is not why he was the greatest to me.  I’m always befuddled when he’s referred to as a “boxing legend” and that’s how most people know him, but he was so much more than a “boxing legend.”He was an exceptional boxer yes and this is how he first came to be known to the world.  How he really became known to the masses was after denouncing his Christian upbringing and converting to Islam.  This is when Ali gained international fame.  He was no longer just a boxer now, but a champion of the world uniting America with Muslims from around the world.  This was a brave move at that time.  It wasn’t highly thought of by many American’s and many actually ended up despising him for this.  Unsettling to have your black champ converting to Islam and all back in the 60’s you know.  Very un-American.  And so with this he dropped his “slave name” Cassius Clay and became the world re-known Muhammad Ali and the people’s champ.  It was in his solidarity and unity of oneness, not allowing cultural differences or religious divides that the eastern world and parts of Africa and Asia began to adore him and cherish him as their own champion.Next: No he did not dodge the draft.  It was progressive in that day and age for an American and especially and American fighter/athlete, oh might I add how dare a black man, refuse to go to war.  Black men did not tell white men no.  That was a no no.  And Ali’s “NO,” was not a soft whisper, but a loud affirmative “NO” that shook up the world.  It was not simply the No, but the tone of the No and the confidence and affirmation of his No that penetrated through the airwaves, the courthouse and blasted across many platforms.  It was a remarkable and exceptional act of bravery and courage.  He was not a coward who was afraid to fight.  Ali knew he would not be on the front lines, but on the sidelines signing autographs for the soldiers.  This was not the point.  He did not support war.  He was anti-war and this was not heard of in this day and age, especially for an athlete, oh did I mention black athlete.  And more power to him for telling everyone to F’ off.What made Ali the greatest was his bravery and courage, his big mouth and outspoken wit.  He told it like it was.  He didn’t care if it was not PC. He didn’t tone it down. He didn’t care if he was the first to say it.  That’s what made him awesome and the greatest.  He was the first to say a lot of it.  Most things that came out of his mouth in that day and age as a black man had not been said publicly.  He was unapologetically black in the 60’s and that had not been done.  Yes, you had your Jackie Robinson’s of the world, but they tip toed around issues and spoke gingerly not to piss people off.  Ali was pissed off about it and wanted everyone to know this shit was not cool.  People didn’t like that and were not used to that, but this is just another example of why he was great.  He had every right to be pissed and he had every right to diss.  This is why he was a champion.  Ali spoke for the millions of colored people who did not have a voice.  For the millions of people who were being mistreated and profiled, Ali was their voice.  He was loud and proud and this gave a generation of black men and women and colored people the confidence to be somebodies.  One man had this sort of astounding impact with his one loud voice and for this he is and will always be the greatest.  No other man has had such a profound impact on so many hundreds of millions of people around the world.  It was not popular to speak out on race and inequality and injustice and tell the white supreme court he would not go fight the white man’s war, but he didn’t care.  He did it and he meant it and stood by it.  “No I will not go ten thousand miles from here to simply continue the domination of the white slave master…..”  He was stripped of his title and gave up the greatest years of his boxing career, but he was a man of conviction.  There is not a single athlete in the world today who would do this and have this kind of integrity and conviction.Ali was also the greatest because he was handsome and charismatic.  He was the first rapper ever.  He was poetic and prophetic.  And while there have been many greats before him and after him who stood up for something, no-one man possessed all of these traits.  There was no one single man who unified people with religion, race, charisma, prophecy, humanitarianism and dignity in death through a disease. The lessons he taught us are many.  No one has brought so much to the table.  And no there will never be another Ali or even anything remotely close to him.And here’s one of his greatest contributions to us , in the end while he battled Parkinson’s Ali taught us a brave lesson about our mortality and how to live through it powerfully.  He didn’t go into hiding.  He wanted no sympathy or pity for his embattled body.  He continued going out into the world, signing autographs the world over, making himself totally accessible to those who loved him, greeting fans with a smile, donating his own money and helping to raise millions of dollars and awareness for charities around the world.  He took on Parkinson’s like the champ he was smiled through the discomfort and paralysis of it.  He was a great man with a great calling and very great meaning.He was the greatest and lives in so many of us today and forever with his legacy of bravery, triumph, compassion and courage.Muhammad Ali, the greatest of all time finally resting in peace.  I am forever changed and grateful for the greatest having graced us with his presence.Muhammad Ali – the official site. 

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Sue Dhillon is an Indian American writer, journalist, and trainer.

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