When someone mentions the phrase “Greatest of all time” or simply the word “G.O.A.T”, several great names flow into our minds. These individuals have been titled as such for simply being exceptional at what they do and for leaving their mark stronger than the rest of the competition causing ordinary people, in order to embrace the lives of these greats for various reasons. But, among the greats there could also be a greatest, who would’ve just managed to outshine the others, and in my mind it’s the Great Muhammad Ali (formerly known as Cassius Marcellus Clay) – the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time.
Known to the majority for his achievements with regards to boxing, Muhammad Ali was far more than a boxer. Apart from his illustrious boxing career, his acts had impacted a vast set of people all over the world. A few events of his life have been adapted into this blog to give you an understanding on what led him to becoming who he was and how we too should incorporate these into our lives in order to succeed.
One of the many things Muhammad Ali always carried in his bag was courage. The biggest turning point in his life I would say was when he beat Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight title for the first time in his career. To be honest the most impressive part of this entire event was everything that happened pre-event.
Muhammad Ali, 22 Years at the time and quite less experienced was definitely the underdog and considered by many as soon to be another victim of Sonny Liston, dubbed the big ugly bear. Ali on the other hand disregarded all the hate and negativity thrown over at him, and what was most impressive was how he countered them. He simply directed all his trash talk towards Sonny anywhere and everywhere possible trying to play with his mind and was even crazy enough to crash into Sonny’s training facility and trigger a fight all of which were acts taken by him to show the world that they were all wrong to think of him the way they thought of all other victims of Sonny. A mad man as the people called him, he proved that his madness was simply his bravery by winning the fight by a technical knockout in the 6th round resulting in one of the major upsets in sporting history while also crowning himself as the youngest Heavyweight champion at the time. His trash talk, fearless attitude all part of his bravery is what initiated his journey towards greatness.
Lesson learnt: Fear is something that a person should overcome as soon as possible, because it’s what would set you back for a lifetime. Courageous people have proven to reach the greatest of limits and have had the best of adventures. Therefore, never fear to take the next step nor fall for all the negativity or hate thrown at you in life, but face them courageously, which is what most iconic individuals have done in their lives.
Self-confidence is what builds a person. Confidence is key to a great start when it comes to anything. One of the greatest things that Muhammad Ali possessed and exhibited was a vast amount of self-confidence. Even at interviews, press conferences and even during a fight he never hesitated to let the others know of it and its power was proved more than ever at the Rumble in the Jungle. The Rumble in the Jungle, one of the greatest sporting events in history, was a title bout between Muhammad Ali and then Heavyweight Champion, George Foreman. At a time when the former champion was aging past his prime and the current champion was young and powerful with an attitude of a killer, people simply thought that the fight would simply end with Ali being beaten badly. Ali again was placed as an underdog in his life however, against all odds, Ali put his techniques, skill, experience and mostly his self-confidence to play which resulted in another major upset in sporting history – Muhammad Ali won by knockout and becomes the Heavyweight Champion for the 3rd time in his career.
Lesson learnt: Before you step into anything, make sure you are confident about yourself. You might fail, and people would barge you with all sorts of negativity, but never lose your confidence as it is what would push you the furthest and enable you to achieve whatever you set out for!
Having already looked into two events of the sporting career of Muhammad Ali, which are perfect examples as to why we should adapt certain characteristics into our lives in order to succeed, let us look beyond his sporting career.
Out of the several accolades won in his career as a boxer, the Olympic gold medal from the 1960 Olympics under the light heavyweight category was a special one, but for Ali that feeling didn’t last for long after an ugly incident. At a time when racism had a strong stand in in the USA and especially in the hometown of Muhammad Ali – Louisville, Kentucky, he had brought fame and glory for his motherland all the way from Rome from the Olympics. However, soon after a racially fueled incident took place where he was refused to be served at a “Whites only” restaurant which prompted him to throw away his hard-earned gold medal into the Ohio River.
Lesson learnt: What I personally got out of this whole incident was that, most materialistic things are of temporary value, and we shouldn’t be overly attached to them. Nowadays people tend to be obsessed with the temporary things in life whilst ignoring the more important ones. Therefore, always try to keep the real things close to your life, and this would make life less stressful and a lot worthy!
Another famous event in Ali’s life was when he decided to go against the law of the United States of America. By the sound of it might seem like he was up to something illegal, but it wasn’t! He was simply standing for what he thought was the right thing. In 1966, Ali was made eligible to be drafted into the U.S. military, at a time when they were involved in the Vietnam war. Ali, who had already converted to Islam, refused to be inducted into the U.S. military citing that war was against the teachings of Islam and that the Vietnamese weren’t his real enemies but certain people who lived in his own country (this was basically directed at the people in the U.S.A who were racist). This decision of Ali’s caused several people to brand him as a traitor and things worsened when he arrived at the scheduled induction at Houston but refused step forward when his name was called upon a few times. Subsequently he was arrested which led to the suspension of his boxing license and was stripped of his title and being inactive for more than three years of his prime as a boxer. However, Ali continued to stick to his decision and gradually gained the peoples support which too contributed to his fame and respect beyond the sport. In 1971 Ali’s conviction was reversed which saw his return to the boxing ring.
Lesson learnt: Many of us fear to stand up for what is right or for what our heart desires, simply because we want to avoid all the hate thrown at us, but if you take a look at the many lives that influenced a change in how things were done, there were people who stood up for the right thing or followed their heart even when surrounded by thousands who opposed them. Therefore, never hesitate to do what is right, for it is only the good things you have done that remains after your demise.
Celebrating the achievements and being fans or followers of great people is a good thing, but what is even better is to look at the challenges faced, barriers crossed, and the decisions taken by them that led them towards becoming impactful people, for that is the best way to lead an impactful life yourself!
Written By: Rtr. Priyan Jerome
Edited By: Rtr. Abinaya Sritharan