Outspoken about well… everything. And wonderfully so when so many others do not speak. Phenomenal athlete, civil rights champion, eloquent speaker, poet, ambassador to the world, loving father and friend to so many… outside his personal circle he touched the world in a way that could make people feel the spirit he possessed. Was he perfect? Not by definition, but he was to me. Because he did those things while still very human and flawed and not so squeaky clean as to be untouchable. I think those were sometimes the best parts.
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” – Muhammad Ali
I can never trust a man who has no faults, but I can one who continues forward despite and in spite of them. A person of conscience, to me, Muhammad Ali always seemed to be so very clear in his personal convictions and did not allow himself to be compromised. And more, he was somehow able to do so while still drawing people to him, remaining approachable, laughing, loving, caring and blind to borders, colours, religions or any other barrier it seemed. I remember watching him through the early 70’s and being so drawn, fascinated, by this person who was so far away from me, and yet somehow not. He never appeared a stranger to anyone and, in my perception, appeared to have tapped into the network that is shared human experience and used it to draw everyone to him. He was a beacon.
To me, no matter what situation he was in he seemed to so easily recognise the thing that so few others don’t – that right is right – and bore the weight of responsibility to be a voice for those who could not speak, even when it was hard for him. Because I know it had to be so many times and I know he had to be afraid. All these things are the definition of a hero to me and he will always remain someone I have admired, respected, learned lessons in humanity from and, if I work very hard, may be able to emulate in some small way before my turn is up.
“I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.”
You were a gift from the universe, Cassius. Thank you for leaving us your legacy of what it takes to be a proper human. I hope we can do it justice. From my heart, I will never forget you.