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Muhammad Ali (1942-2016). Biography

Muhammad Ali was a truly great individual. All around the world people have identified with the positive energy, courage, dynamism and principles of Ali. ali

Ali was an Olympic and world champion boxer, but he would also display courage in many fields of life, not just the boxing ring. During the Vietnam war he was a conscientious objector, seeing the war as unjust. He endured much hate and scorn for his refusal to fight in that war, but Ali was a fighter for social justice and fairness at home. His position on the war was very unpopular at the time, but in retrospect many see it as a principled stand.

Ali was no angel and his response to the racial injustices of society was often strong, especially in his early years. But over the years his stance became more nuanced and understanding. He started out as an activist for Muslims and African Americans, but by the end of his life, it would be fair to say that Ali stood for the rights of all humanity. As Ali himself said:

“A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

Before boxing matches, Ali could express an unmatched self-confidence, a self-confidence that was well founded. But that is only one side of Ali; there is also the spiritual side, the humble side.

“Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams — they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do — they all contain truths”

― Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times

“Truly great people in history never wanted to be great for themselves. All they wanted was the chance to do good for others and be close to God.”

― Muhammad Ali, The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections of Life’s Journey

When struggling with Parkinson’s disease, Ali retained his wit and humility, seeing it as an opportunity to make a different kind of progress:

“Maybe my Parkinson’s is God’s way of reminding me what is important. It slowed me down and caused me to listen rather than talk. Actually, people pay more attention to me now because I don’t talk as much.”

“I always liked to chase the girls. Parkinson’s stops all that. Now I might have a chance to go to heaven.”

Asked how he would like to be remembered, Ali said:

“I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times.

Who was humorous and who treated everyone right.

As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him.

And who helped as many people as he could.

As a man who stood up for his beliefs no matter what.

As a man who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love.

And if all that’s too much then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people.

And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was.”