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Muhammad Ali : Don’t Count The Days ; Make The Days Count

Mohammad Ali
The young champion

Ali became interested in boxing at a young age. When he was 12 years old the little boy with the name Cassius Clay won his debut match in a threeround decision. Ali’s interest in boxing continued and increased and at the age of 18 when he began his journey towards greatness at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Ironically, Ali was about to lose the Gold Medal in the Olympics due to his fear of airplanes. To get in the plane, he insisted to have a parachute with him. Ali later proved that he represented a blend of beauty and grace, speed and strength that may never again be matched.

A man who has no imagination has no wings.

A battle for justice

Muhammad Ali’s journey was just starting when it had to pause for a few years due to his views of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. He was the first national figure to speak out against the war in Vietnam. To him, as a fighter, there should be a reason to fight. He refused to enter the Vietnam War draft in 1967 and consequently he was stripped of his championship titles, passport, and boxing licenses. He lost an initial court battle and was facing a 5-year prison term as well. Although not as an active boxer, Ali filled his days advocating the rights of others. He returned to boxing in 1970 where he won a few of matches to become the “sportsman of the century” or the “sports personality of the century” as named by Sports Illustrated and B.B.C.

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.

Embracing islam

The legend continued to distinguish himself by choosing what he believed was right instead of focusing on what others might think or how they will react. In 1965, soon after becoming the Heavyweight Champion, Cassius Clay embraced Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. One of his great statements was: “Hating people because of their colour is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which colour does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.” In fact, some of his statements prior to becoming a Muslim were a bit hash, rude and arrogant. He even mentioned that in a short sentence when he said: “It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.”

Live everyday as if it were your last because someday you’re going to be right.

The anchor punch

Ali was an innovative strategist, introducing new techniques to the art of fighting. His ground-breaking approach had never been seen before. In his second fight against Sonny Liston in Lewiston, Ali knocked out Liston in the first round with a fast right. Ali’s tactic against George Foreman in their battle in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) was mind-blowing. He spent most of the match leaned up against the ropes covering up and allowing Foreman to punch his arms and body. In the eighth round, Ali pounced and landed several punches – ultimately knocking down Foreman, winning the match and reclaiming his title. Muhammad Ali had 61 fights along 21 years. He won 56 of these fights, 37 of which were knockouts.

Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.

The last battle

In 1984, Muhammad Ali publicly announced that he had Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative neurological condition. Following his diagnosis, he created and raised funds for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Although his disease had progressed, Ali remained an active public figure and philanthropist, dedicated to his faith and humanitarian beliefs. His death was announced by Bob Gunnell, family spokesman. Ali’s funeral was attended by a large number of world leaders who saw him as a global figure who created a name and fame for himself by positively influencing other peoples’ lives.

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.

A jewel of the muslim world

In 2013, Muhammad Ali received the Jewels of the Muslim World Award which was presented during the opening ceremony of the 4th Muslim World Business and Investment Zone, held in Malaysia. The award is honoured by OIC TODAY magazine in celebration of the achievements by great Muslims around the world in different industries through which they uplifted the status of the Ummah among other nations. Muhammad Ali has engraved his name in the heart and mind of most people around the world. People in different countries with various beliefs and from any race agree or age group that he was a great man. This made him more than anyone else to deserve this and other awards during his life. And definitely he will be remembered for being a person who united the world in loving him.

The hollywood STAR

There are more than 2,500 brass stars embedded in the sidewalk on 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and several blocks on Vine Street in Hollywood carrying names of actors and actresses. To many people this is a sumptuous honour, but Muhammad Ali has not accepted it for one reason he explained it saying: “I bear the name of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and it is impossible that I allow people to trample over his name.” Hollywood accepted his condition and until today the only star that has been hanged vertically on a wall is the one for Muhammad Ali. He has never compromised his beliefs in exchange of some fame of materialistic gains. This was his behaviour even before he reverted to Islam – perhaps you can refer to his view of Vietnam War.

I bear the name of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and it is impossible that I allow people to trample over his name.

Family of the legend

He married his first wife, a waitress named Sonji Roi, one month after meeting her in 1964. She had problems with the Islamic dress code for women, and they divorced in 1966. He was then married to Belinda Boyd from 1967 to 1977 and Veronica Porsche Ali from 1977 to 1986 before marrying Yolanda Williams in 1986. He has a total of nine children (two sons and seven daughters). They are Asaad Amin, Muhammad Ali Jr., Miya, Khaliah, Jamillah, Maryum, Hana, Rasheda and Laila. His youngest daughter Laila had a celebrated boxing career with a record of 24-0 with 21 wins by knockout.

At home I am a nice guy, but I don’t want the world to know.

Globally recognised

When asked how he would like to be remembered, he once said: “As a man who never sold out his people. But if that is too much, then just a good boxer.” With a smile on his face, he also said: “I won’t even mind if you don’t mention how pretty I was.” Some of the statements that have been said in his tribute were from former U.S. President Bill Clinton who said: “He lived a life full of religious and political convictions that led him to make tough choices and live with the consequences.” The legendary Brazilian footballer, Pele, said the sporting universe had suffered a huge loss. On his side, the U.S. President Barack Obama said “Muhammad Ali shook up the world. And the world is better for it.”