Last year, I had the opportunity to visit Kentucky, the birthplace of the one nicknamed as ‘The Greatest’, none other than Muhammad Ali. Being a die-hard fan of his deeds, I recently finished reading his autobiography, titled – The Soul of a Butterfly. It’s not just a few papers with an orthodox tale, but rather, about the struggles he went through and how he accommodated himself to those.
Muhammad Ali’s mother was denied to have a simple glass of water just because of her skin color. “Now I had won the gold medal. But it didn’t mean anything, because I didn’t have the right color skin”, he said. The pessimistic potency of racism is something that infected him all throughout his life. The great boxer didn’t just want to win, he wanted to win because he believed that it would give him the competency to make people listen to him. Muhammad Ali wanted to create influence with his identity, which I could relate to by taking a look around. Social media influencers around us ask why they have to speak about social issues, they might not be the perfect people to talk. To that, I would say that they owe their powerful words to make an impact on the same group of people who made them popular in their respective arenas.
The great boxer had a lot of values, which were reflected later in this book. He was confident about what he was doing. He talked about how there wasn’t any ‘black’ role model for the people who survived with racism smothering them. Because he grew up with all that negativity around him, he stated, “I had faced my fear and gained the self-respect and self-confidence I needed to continue my boxing career.”
Another value he had was conviction. His firm convictions regarding some of the harshest truths are things that make us think deeply. “Why are all the angels white? Why ain’t there no black angels?” he said.
“Service to others is the rent we pay for our room in Heaven”, said Muhammad Ali, whose spiritual side was vigorous. He chose to be a part of a charity, because he wasn’t sure the one receiving it was an angel, but it could be very much likely that the person receiving it had the same beliefs as he did. He stated, “Spirituality is recognizing the divine light that is within us all. It doesn’t belong to any particular religion; it belongs to everyone.”
Tell me, how many of us can blindly bet on the fact that we have never failed to accord the proper level of respect to the right people? We would have to think hard even if we try to answer that. He knew from his childhood how it feels to be disrespected just for his skin color, whereas none of us have control of the way we are born. Remember, his mother was disrespected when it came to having a glass of water, and here is her son, broadening the power of respecting people.
Lastly, another value that I didn’t fail to grasp from his story would be, dedication. Despite facing so much hatred ever since he stepped into the earth, he didn’t stop to chase his dreams. “I’ve always wanted to be more than just a boxer. More than just the three-time heavyweight champion. I wanted to use my fame, and this face that everyone knows so well, to help uplift and inspire people around the world,” he stated.
Tell me, are we confident enough to follow just a few values from his life? In this era of hatred where demeaning people of social media gives us power, and taking help makes us weak, we haven’t shifted to a properly civilized state yet, which we all know. Maybe I fail to follow these values in my regular life too, just like you might be; but should that stop us from trying?
Let me give you a time to rewind which of these values you are prepared to follow if not all, and end with this quote of his, “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them- a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”