Photos Show Ali Still Fighting
Last Friday, heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali died at the age of 74. The fighter who boasted that “the champ is here,” is here no longer.
As an intern at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, I was at the opening ceremony and witnessed Ali light the Olympic cauldron. It was such an inspiring moment. There had not been any press on who had been given the responsibility to ignite the world’s largest sporting competition. We had no idea until he appeared on the ramp. Once again, Ali shocked the world. I remember thinking, “The Champ is here! The Champ is here!” At that time, he had been fighting Parkinson’s for 12 years. Despite his physical condition, the gold medal boxing winner at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome stood tall, took the torch and sparked the Centennial Olympics in his homeland. The country that banned him from the sport of boxing for three years because he disagreed and refused to participate in the Vietnam War. Ironically, Atlanta was the location for his first fight after his suspension. It was emotional to see the man who shook up the world, now shaking in front of it. I thought of the courage, strength and forgiveness it took for him to be a champion. In that moment, Ali was fighting. Still the greatest.
I was moved by the last professional portraits of Ali; actually, convicted. Thejust three weeks before his death, show that he is still the greatest. He did not turn away from the camera. He eyes are defiant and wise. The facial expression is confident and relaxed; absent of fear. Black sunglasses tell you that he is cool. Frail arms and fists are raised to the perfect hand placement for an orthodox stance boxer. See the champ was still fighting. No longer the young man with a chiseled body shocking the world; yet, still the greatest.
I believe that Ali also wanted to teach us a lesson about what it really means to be a fighter. Our physical stature and capabilities do not determine whether we can fight or how long we can fight. It is the spirit and will to keep going despite your circumstances. It is muffling your fears and telling yourself that you are the greatest even when you do not believe it. After fighting Parkinson’s for 32 years, the pictures display Ali still fighting. Still telling the man he sees in the mirror that he is the greatest. It is this intense faith in himself, that made the statement true.
Are you fighting or allowing your circumstances to suffocate your spirit? Be bold and true to yourself. Master the lesson from Muhammad Ali and get your spirit in the right stance to keep punching and embrace the next step. I am confident that he exploded through the gates of heaven and shouted, “The champ is here!” Will you?
Get in the game!