I remember the first time I saw Muhammad Ali fight. It was versus George Foreman in Zaire, dubbed “The Rumble in the Jungle.” Ali knocked out Foreman, then the heavyweight champion, in the 8th round. Some pundits have argued it was the greatest sporting event in history. For me personally at 9 years old, it solidified Ali as my boxing champion.
I was privileged to have watched the last years of Ali’s career, including the brutally painful loss to Larry Holmes in 1980, when it was becoming apparent that age and some infirmity had caught up with “The Greatest.” He was pummeled by Holmes, who later sat in his locker room after and wept out of his tremendous respect for Ali. Certainly it can be argued that Muhammad Ali was the best boxer of all time. But ultimately, his legacy was much greater.
I’ve often written about being resilient. My definition has been that resilience is the ability to take a punch and get up and throw two back. Ali was the epitome of resilience, both in and out of the ring. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1984 and the young age of 42. Years of being hit upside the head had for him, exacerbated the disease. For 32 years, the champ fought the biggest and most impressive fight of his career, while all the while championing freedom, civil rights, cures for his disease and others, and global peace. Largely forgotten is his 1990 trip to Iraq to negotiate the release of 15 American hostages by Saddam Hussein. Ali was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2005. How amazing, that a man who was so reviled in the late 1960’s and early 70’s would ultimately become one of the most loved and respected people in the world.
Friday night, I walked down to my small exercise room where among images of Russell Wilson, Ronda Rousey, and my favorite Washington Huskies, hangs the greatest photo ever taken of Muhammad Ali, as he stands boldly and triumphantly over Sonny Liston on May 25, 1965. I was just under five months old when that fight happened, yet it holds a special place in my home. That night, I appreciatively and respectfully saluted Muhammad Ali, for being “The Greatest.”
Rest in peace, Champ….
Quote of the Week:
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
~ Muhammad Ali 1942-2016
© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved