On June 3, 2016, the world woke up to the news that the ‘Greatest’ had lost his final bout. The death of Muhammad Ali had the same impact on the world as he had always had during and after his illustrious boxing career. Although he is no more, it is no secret that his spirit will live on forever; as his influence transcended borders, nationalities, religious affiliations and even races.
Born as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr, Ali’s family settled in Louisville, Kentucky on 17th January 1942, Ali grew up to become the most famous athlete and boxer the world has ever seen. He was not only known for his feats in the ring, but his careful choice and use of words amazed many. His most famous quote, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” is still being used across the world not only to motivate boxers but also encourage other people from all walks of life.
Muhammad Ali discovered his talent oddly; when his bicycle was stolen and the police officer whom Ali reported to told him that he better train how to fight if he is to beat the thief after Ali made known his desires to beat up the thief. The police officer, Joe Martin later enrolled Ali into his gym, and it was here that Ali began boxing.
Ever since he won the gold medal with the US team during the 1960 Olympics, Muhammad Ali career continued to rise beyond expectations. Who can forget his most famous fights, the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ and the ‘Thrilla in Manila’? Despite the fights taking place thousands of miles away, his prowess in the ring did not only amaze the hosts but indeed shook the whole world. His confidence, determination and the “never say never” spirit, propelled him to victory against all odds. His conversion to Islam and his refusal to join the Vietnam War was a clear indication that this great man will only do what is right in his eyes and will never compromise his principles and his stand whatsoever.
To summarize his boxing career, Ali became the first black man to win the world heavy weight title and the first man to win it three times, a feat that has never been achieved even today.
After his retirement, Ali announced that he had Parkinson’s disease in 1984 and had been involved in raising funds for Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center until his death on June 3, 2016. His engagements in humanitarian services, especially in developing nations saw him receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush.
Even as his health deteriorated, his stardom has continued to grow in stature. He made many people believe that they can achieve whatever they set their mind to irrespective of their backgrounds. His courage and ability to rise up even when faced with difficult handles have inspired many to greatness.