“I FIGURED THAT IF I SAID IT ENOUGH, I WOULD CONVINCE THE WORLD THAT I REALLY WAS THE GREATEST” -MUHAMMAD ALI
The world mourns the death of Cassius M. Clay Jr. Reports flooded last Friday night of the boxing legend passing at the age of 74 after being hospitalized due to respiratory issues. Muhammad’s mortality ends his 32 year long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He is survived by his fourth wife Yolonda ‘Lonnie’ Williams as well as nine children: Laila Ali, Rasheda Ali, Hana Ali, Asaad Amin, Maryum Ali, Jamillah Ali, Khaliah Ali, Muhammad Ali Jr., and Miya Ali. While there will be plenty of sources retelling the epic tales of Ali’s career, I wanted to reflect on the quote above from a personal standpoint. I could lie and be one of those “oh-this-quote-is-what-I’ve-lived-by-my-entire-life-all-hail-Muhammad-Ali” type of writers….But I like to keep it real with ya – I was trying to come up with a caption for #daGram and came across this one. The One. God said write, so I got to it.
Before Muhammad had the opportunity to convince the world he was the greatest, he had to believe it for himself FIRST. To win life’s battles, YOU HAVE TO BE ON YOUR SIDE. Your biggest cheerleader/advocate. If the world and circumstances you’re up against are already going to be hard enough to fight, why wouldn’t you be in your corner when it’s time to strap up? The longest relationship we have is with ourselves, so you can’t expect anyone else to believe in you when you don’t believe it. Truss me, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way time and time again. When you’re in your zone (or figuring out how to get there), it’s not the time to cloud your thoughts with the opinions of others. Trust you. There’s a time and place for counsel and guidance. It is important to seek out help but not if it’s going to overshadow your intuition. Ali said it best when he said: “My trainer don’t tell me nothing between rounds. I don’t allow him to. I fight the fight. All I want to know is did I win the round. It’s too late for advice.” Yes, he needed to train to prepare for the battle – but when it is time to hit the ring, you have to have faith that your hours spent getting ready for facing your challenge won’t go in vein. NOW is the time to believe your bark is as big as your bite. Unleash your greatness into the world & watch magic unfold!
I stumbled across an exhibit a few years back at Central Piedmont; entitled “The Boxing Gym”. The project – created by artists de’Angelo Dia and Shaun El C. Leonardo – explored the psyche of an African-American athlete. It was a powerful black & white multimedia installation “examining the media and public’s contradictory desire to build up our heroes only to see them torn down”. Wow. The scene was set with one man (Leonardo), alone, in a dirty, abandoned boxing gym. Something about the grit of broken glass & graffiti grabbed me at first glance. Dia describes the vision behind the installation as: “The gym in which he once spent the majority of his life training is now a mere shell of the macho grandeur, aggression and intensity it once symbolized…” I was mesmerized. It was a chilling wake up call that made me pose the question:
‘What differentiates the good from GREAT?
HE WAS GREAT BECAUSE OF HIS SPIRIT AND DRIVE TO NEVER GIVE UP THE FIGHT.
AS A RESULT OF HIS WINNING MENTALITY – HE CONQUERED WHATEVER OPPOSITION THREW AT HIM. Racism? Left hook. Imprisonment? Right jab. Debilitating disease? Sucker punched that bad boy…you get the picture. Ali’s life teaches us a lesson in winning the battles we wake up to fight every single day. Are you claiming victory over your own struggles when you wake up in the morning? Or do you get out of bed feeling defeated, even before the day has begun? It’s time for us to KNOCK OUT insecurities, negative mindsets and all other distractions from our destiny. We have to face what was meant to be #HANDLED. Each and every one of us are here on this Earth to do legendary things. Fortunately, some find out what that is with ease, and pursue it relentlessly. If you’re like me, maybe you are trying to figure out exactly what it is that makes you so epic. Because believe me, you are epic. If I’m honest, (& yes, usually I am brutally honest) it’s not always so easy to discern…at least at first. But the thing about a fighter is that they know the battle doesn’t begin nor end with the bell. It’s about staying in the fight. It’s about living in a constant state of preparedness. Ready to take on whatever life throws your way.
“He does understand his place in history, ’cause he – ya know- made that happen for himself. But he does have very humble moments where he’ll say ‘Wow, people still remember me’. So he’s not so arrogant where he ever thinks, ‘I’ll always be remembered’. He always questions: ‘Will they still remember me’?” -Maryum Ali, daughter of Muhammad Ali on her father’s legacy
The question I ask today, what are you being remembered for? Better yet, what are you fighting for today?