The world will never doubt that even in his passing, he still floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.
Having met the man briefly firsthand, I can honestly say that he exuded greatness in every aspect of his life. Many will sing praises about his legendary boxing ability, his impressive victory records, or even his uncanny ability to dodge blows from his opponents. But that’s not what I’m here to address today in writing about him.
I’d rather point out the man behind the gloves, because ultimately, it was the person he was outside the ring that made him incredible inside the ring as well. I want to point out the things that made him so respected in the first place. It’s the least I can do in honor of his memory.
First and foremost, he was extremely giving and charitable. When he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he didn’t throw in the towel, nor did he just fight for his own life. No, for Ali, he took things one step further. He established The Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in Phoenix, Az and fought for the lives of all of us affected by this terrible illness. Even today, millions are living better lives because of his efforts.
He was one of the few who stood by what he believed in, refusing to give in. Another hallmark of a great fighter. Regardless of how you may feel about the stances he took throughout his life, he was passionate enough to never falter and fierce enough to defend what he believed.
I think we can all use more tenacity like that in our lives. It’s exactly that sort of mentality that made him legendary in the ring. That said, he also knew how to bridge those stances with other people. He wasn’t narrow-minded or stubborn, instead, he planted his feet, stood his ground, and reached out, like any boxer would.
I particularly liked the quote by Billy Crystal, a longtime friend of Ali: “Ultimately, he became a silent messenger for peace, who taught us that life is best when you build bridges between people, not walls.”
Remember that going forward. It’s ok to stand up for what you believe in, it’s better to fight for others, but most importantly, it’s best to find the things that connect us all, and bring us closer to mutual understanding in making this world a better place.
In light of all he’s done with his life I have no doubt he is resting peacefully, having made the world a greater place.