As I sat last night listening and watching dignitaries and ordinary people alike from different races, religion and creeds, making glowing tributes, eulogies, and farewell speeches about Muhammad Ali (the greatest) at his home-going ceremony, I couldn’t help crying and wishing he could hear all that was being said. I picked a few lessons from this farewell ceremony. Here are some :
Ali was from rural Kentucky, a heavily segregated part of America. He grew up in the midst of prejudice and racism. Yet he loved both black and white. He never acted out his experience in the hands of racist on anyone. He just loved humanity. Don’t let past abuses, sufferings and persecutions color your sense of love and respect for people. Forgive, Forget and Forbear.
Ali hated injustice and he fought injustice. He was asked to join the US army to fight in Vietnam. He objected saying it should be his choice, and he cannot go to fight innocent people when his people were suffering at home. His defiance of the State caused him to lose all his prized possessions, including his titles and boxing license in 1967. He was banned from the Rings and remained so for three years. This did not kill him. It only strengthened him to fight injustice the more as he used this period to make speeches while also appealing his conviction. Nothing can kill you, unless you allow it.
Ali was bold, often referred to as being brash. His sojourn into boxing started with the loss of his bicycle. He told Joe Martin (the white policeman he reported to about his stolen bicycle), that he wanted to beat up the thief who stole his bicycle. Joe Martin advised him to learn how to fight before challenging people and thus began his boxing lesson at the age of 12. Joe turned out to be his first trainer. You need boldness in life to succeed.
Ali knew and used the power of positive words to the best of his advantage. He kept singing it to the world ‘I am the greatest’ and truly he attained such greatness that remains unmatched both in and out of the Rings, even Parkinson couldn’t deny Ali of that greatness. What do you tell yourself everyday? Ali was indeed an apostle of positive confession. He confessed himself into greatness.
Ali never allowed defeat to knock him out. He suffered defeat in the hands of Larry Holmes, Joe Fraser, Michael Spinks and others. After each defeat, Ali would immediately go back to the gym and immersed himself in Training. He held the world title three times through his tenacity. He never gave up on himself, even after he was diagnosed of Parkinson disease in 1984. Ali didn’t commit suicide unlike most celebrities, as the disease took control of his body. He was in control of his mind and took to social activism, peace making and philanthropic engagements. Even Parkinson couldn’t defeat Ali, as he lived with it for 32years! So what is your excuse?
Ali was full of endurance. He had the reputation of tiring out his opponent. He could fight on for the entire 15 rounds in a boxing bout. Friend, develop your strength and stamina. Life will knock you down if you don’t have stamina.
I could go on and on. Ali made me love boxing and it remains my number one sport. He brought a lot of charisma and energy into the boxing ring. His popular words ‘float like a butterfly and sting like a bee’, became a terror to his opponents. Ali was great indeed. Death can’t deny him of his greatness, for even in death, his greatness still speaks.
Ali’s life is a challenge to all of us. Regardless of your background, color or race, you can be great. Especially for the black race, we can rise above every primordial sentiments and excuses and achieve the greatness God has destined for us. It is time to stop the senseless bickering and power struggles. It is time to amaze the world with our gifts and talents. Nothing can stop us except we allow it. May his soul rest in peace.
God bless us all.
Good morning Africa!
Good morning Nigeria!