Saturday, June 4, 2016

The World Loses A Legend: The Passing of Muhammad Ali

Cassius "Muhammad Ali" Clay passed away Friday at the age of 74. He was known as the People's Champ and for good reason. He won the hearts of the public with his character. He was the fiery fast talker, charismatic and opinionated but could back up his wit and verbal jabs with legit lightning fast jabs in the ring. He's proclaimed as the greatest boxer in the history of this sport, but it was his personality and actions outside of the ring that made him the famous influential figure that the world will never forget.

Social media has had an overwhelming outpouring of messages, tweets, and tributes to the fighter. He was a universally loved athlete because of his intellect, his sense of humor and his bravado. In a day and age where the world looks so disapprovingly at Muslims and Islam in general, it's ironic that someone seen in such admirable light across various creeds, ethnicity and backgrounds for his life and body of work and his activism was a Muslim. 

There's so many quotables, so many soundbytes and memes that highlight his exceptional character that I can't do it enough justice packing it all in on this blog. What I can do is give my own personal tribute to him.

Unfortunately, I missed Muhammad Ali in his prime when he was a star-attraction, a headliner and controversial hero. But thankfully, with the benefit of videography, a lot of his greatest moments were captured on camera. His interviews, his epic fights, his poetry, his humor was captured for us all to marvel at. He had documentary after documentary made about him and his life. He had a Hollywood biopic made about him. It was through these means that I came to appreciate just how great of a man he was and how proud I was to know that we shared the same faith and that made us brothers.

This young scrawny kid from Alabama became one of the greatest figures in our lifetime by working hard, having his eyes set on a vision of greatness and busting his tail to go after it. Sure he was brash and confident and had a swagger about him, but he could back it up yet at the same time he was so down to earth unlike athletes these days who put themselves on a pedestal and look down upon commoners (Money Mayweather). 

His conversion to Islam ultimately humbled him and made him a lot more introspective. I'll never forget an excellent clip of him talking about Islam and his view on the purpose of life and death and the afterlife. What's amazing was that he was on a national stage, in front of tons of white folk, talking Islam in the friggin '70s to people who didn't have a clue about what the faith was all about, and he schooled them and they just were wowed by his commentary. Here it is below:

It wouldve been delightful for him to be able to be vocal and nimble in his old age, God knows he'd be a fiery spokesperson til his last breath for Islam, for Muslims and for the injustices in the world against African Americans and other minorities and railing against corruption in government like he did in his heyday. I wouldve loved to hear from him.

Unfortunately, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1984, just three years after his last fight of his phenomenal boxing career. It was sad to see that the man who become world famous for his quick footwork and loud mouth had those very gifts hampered by the disease, his movements slowing, his posture shaky and his voice practically taken away. . But even he had a humble sense of humor about things, as he stated in vintage Muhammad Ali fashion:

God gave me this illness to remind me that I'm not number one, he is.
The man forever known as the "greatest" was reminded of the phrase that Muslims all around the world, utter during every prayer, who ACTUALLY is the greatest: Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest). And Ali reponds with the most humbling quote summing up his reaction to the Parkinson's disease he was given. It's just out of this world. 

Muhammad Ali will be missed dearly and I pray that he is given the highest station in paradise and that one day I could meet him on the other side.

RIP Muhammad Ali

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