Opinion

Muhammad Ali ‘The Greatest’

Muhammad Ali, the most recognisable person on earth and beloved to million of fans across the globe passed away peacefully this weekend in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. He was quite simply
06 Jun 2016 11:59
Muhammad Ali  ‘The Greatest’
Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali, the most recognisable person on earth and beloved to million of fans across the globe passed away peacefully this weekend in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

He was quite simply the greatest athlete of all time. It was very graphic to see when he was voted across the globe as the Sportsman of the Millennium having more votes singularly than all his other contenders put together.

With his passing there has been an outpouring of condolences from Kings, Queens, Presidents and sports stars from all over the globe. Hollywood and Bollywood icons have sent their respects and of course his most cherished fans the common people have given an outpouring of remembrances across all social media platforms.

It is the common person that Ali connected with best, the hard working mums and dads, sisters and brothers across the world, this was because of his genuine love for the people and also his amazing ability to show Love, Compassion and Forgiveness that we the common people may not have been able to express.

With this iconic figures passing it could be time to do some soul searching and conjure up some of the immense courage Ali had and try and implement a little of these famous three traits into our lives that he had in abundance.

When it came to boxing the stars all aligned when Muhammad Ali took centre stage as the Greatest Heavyweight Boxing Champion in history.

He first conquered the amateur ranks in 1960 when as a young 18-year-old boy, he won an Olympic gold medal for his country in the Light Heavyweight division.

His professional heavyweight title reign was from 1964 to 1978. During this time he fought without doubt the toughest and best heavyweight contenders in the history of boxing and regained the  three times.

Standing over 6-feet-3 inches tall and weighing over 100kg Ali is a lot bigger than one would imagine in real life. Not forgetting when training for fights he would be coming down from around 115kgs as he gets into shape.

He fought in many countries worldwide. Who can forget the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” in Zaire, Africa against the colossus George Foreman or the “Thrilla in Manila” in the Philippines against his nemesis ‘Smoking’ Joe Frazier.

Ali was banned by the United States government for three years at the peak of his boxing career from the end of 1967 to 1970 because of his stance not to enlist in the army to fight in Vietnam. He opposed killing innocent people and what became a world famous saying Ali said “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong”.

As most of you know it wasn’t only his extraordinary boxing ability that made him a hero to the masses. It was his immense courage and strength to stand up against wrong doings in society.

There are so many stories of this man’s contribution to society from saving a man’s life who was trying to commit suicide to helping and touching the lives of everybody he met.

Even his ex-wives haven’t got a bad word to say against him. In fact the reason they said they had to leave him was because he belonged to the people and they could not compete with that.

When I first learned about Ali’s demise I was shocked, then saddened for some time, but after a while I felt we should celebrate his extraordinary life because what this legend accomplished in one lifetime might take us one hundred lifetimes.

My own personal account of meeting the legend Muhammad Ali was in London when I was eleven years old after he had contemplated retiring from boxing. I remember myself and my best friend skipping school and travelling on a bus for over two hours to catch a glimpse of him.

When we arrived at our destination there was a huge crowd of thousands of people to see him. Being small kids we slipped to the front and waited eagerly as Ali’s huge imposing figure made his way around the crowd of people.

When he finally approached us I stuck out my little hand to shake his. He saw this and clasped my hand with his and said “ Son what do you wanna be when you grow up” I was petrified and said “ I want to be just like you “ Ali replied “ Don’t be like me, be yourself and make your parents proud” with that he winked at me and moved on. It was a truly special moment for me and one that has stayed with me until today.

That night I dreamt like I had never dreamt before. In my dream I had met the supreme Heavyweight Champion of the World we all loved and admired and I was best buddies with the Greatest of All Time. It was truly one of the greatest days of my life.

I have met Muhammad Ali eight times in total and each time he has managed to surpass my expectations of him. Kind, caring, compassionate, generous and loving are just some of the words I would use to describe this phenomenon.

The title given to him as “THE GREATEST” is one he thoroughly deserves.

Rest in Peace 1942 – 2016

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

The writer is a Fiji Sun  columnist.

Feedback:  ajay@carvingdream.com

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