“He was a great man”, “he was great champ” …..tributes pour in from all corners of the world in honour of legendary Muhammed Ali.
Its just regular that these tributes are devoid of negative comments, criticism whatsoever, especially in a situation of a legend moving on.
You dare not defile the trend!, the historical preservation of ‘this is how we do it’- maybe for the fact the world would frown upon such a stance.
Even those who had previously maintained an opposition stance to that of Ali; and may still hold firm these stance even after his departure, turn to all of a sudden be ideologically aligned with Ali’s views- aligned with his greatness, aligned with his said arrogance,aligned with his fight against white domination and racism..evrything all of a sudden..aligned with ‘Muhammed-Alism’.
They become friends. They become radical activists of Muhammed-Alism- all in the name of ‘ this is how we do it’. They speak All Good, All Good..and nothing else. The constructed criticism they once stood for, the opposition view they once held now drowns. And the lost fight against ‘ this is how we do it’ now surfaces up. In such moment, in a such a world, it all looks ‘Gold’ for the ‘tribute man’- a blindfolder to the world.Quite misleading to the listening ears and onlooking eyes.
Well, today i send in my tribute too but i had to be careful not to take up same position of the many, at least not to fall victim to ‘ this is how we do it’.- so i searched, i read, i listened thoroughly to the tributes, appreciation and the life chronicle of the ‘tribute man’.
I realised two things- He was a true great champion and also true arrogant a person. Impressed and somewhat Disillusioned. Yes, if i am a good man to talk of his ‘gold dust’, i should equally be bold to talk about his ‘mud’. Such should be the true scope of anybody’s story, be he alive or deceased.
Clearly a great boxer. The enormity of his boxing talent and prowess cannot be underestimated. Three time lineal world heavyweight champion is no joke, and many of his followers rightfully hold a strong claim he is the best boxer ever to grace the earth-which i side with.
With 61 fights in total, 56 wins and 5 losses, coupled with all the accolades and the monumental carrier achievements, a section of his followers even hold a stronger claim that he is the greatest ever sportsman-which i doubt, especially considering the considerable deficits between various types of games/sports and the stratospherical carrier achievement pools of the Messis, the Peles, the Jordans, the Bolts etc.
Again, i cant slip into the pool of people who make it seem all ‘Gold’ behind the ‘tribute man’. But, undoubtedly, Muhammed Ali was a great champion in and out of the ring.
In the ring he conquered, he defeated, he was revered, he was loved, he was iconic. His swift punch was almost inevitable, skill second to none and his ‘dance around’ tactics in the ring was mind blowing.” its a job. grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. i beat people up”, he rightly said some years ago.
Outside the ring, he championed a course against racism, and was inspirational to many. ” hating people because of their colour is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which colour does the hating. it’s just plain wrong”, he once maintained. To a larger extent he was a clear message of racial pride for African-Americans and resistance to white domination.
He stood for his convictions, ideas, without an iota of tolerance for fear. He lived like tomorrow was going to be his last..and all he stood for were clearly portrayed in his many quotes. like he did when he said” impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who found it easier to live in a world they have been given than to explore the power they have to change it. impossible is not a fact. its an opinion. impossible is not a declaration.
It’s a dare. impossible is temporary. impossible is nothing”….And oh!, who won’t be inspired by these words.
Here now is his other self-His palpable arrogance and controversial self. His negative self. He once said, “At home i am a nice guy, but i don’t want the world to know. Humble people, i’ve found, don’t get far”.
A certain truth is hidden in that quote. Its obvious Muhammed Ali recognises the essence of humility, but he chooses to be controversial and ‘arrogant’ to the world.
Extremely controversial and polarizing a person, he sometimes needlessly got into hot waters. His assertion of humility, and his choice of reversed-humility in the lense of the world was just a misconstrue, especially considering the likes of Messi, Nadal, Federer who have equally made it to the top and still hold firm to the value of humility.
They world knew it and still know the essence of humility irrespective of one’s position in life, so on many occasions, his arrogance and controversies were blatantly vilified.
He thought of others and boxers as mere articles of secondary matter. He belittled them verbally and addressed them sometimes with sheer disrespect. Once when Sonny Liston became the world champion, Ali hashly and awfully said, ” he’s too ugly to be the world champ.
The world champ should be pretty like me. Clearly, that was a misplaced and joke of a commentary. As if not enough, in the light of his glow, his won accolades, his fame, his accomplishments, his followers, and his arrogance, he thought of himself as not only the best boxer ever, but also the number one to have ever lived on earth.
To him he “is the most recognized and loved man ever lived cuz there weren’t satellites when Jesus and Moses lived, and the people far away in the villages didnt know about them”..Well, that is for the world to judge, but i don’t want to believe that anyone will call a wrong judgememt especially knowing Jesus makes the biggest religion in the world, and Moses a well celebrated prophet of ages-also strong figure in Christianity.
“It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as i am”, he once conceived. But he should have known that it’s not impossible- like he rightly said some time ago-to be great and humble atbthe same time. But Great Ali failed to see, where the world saw that indeed everything was possible.
He was tempted to think that he was number one, until he accepted that, ” God gave me this illness to remind me that i’m not number one; He is”.
The world indeed is cold-felt as the great Muhammed Ali moves on into glory- and tributes are still out-pouring. But i hope all spectrum of the story is told-to inspire the world with his will, enthusiasm, determination and greatness.
And also for the world to know that indeed nothing is impossible-like he rightly said, and that humility should be a complement to greatness, and not the other way round.
By: Prince Kwame Boakye