A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

The Other Half of Muhammed Ali

I’ve never been a big boxing fan.  I am also rather ambivalent to poetry.  Yes, I can appreciate it, but the moment has to be right.  Otherwise I couldn’t be bothered.  That said I did not believe there was very much for me to have appreciated Muhammed Ali’s accomplishments over the years.

My bad.

Now, with his death last week, we can all take stock of his life and mourn his passing for what I now know is truly a magnificent loss for humanity.

I’m not an expert at the sport he rose to prominence.  I’ll let the sportscasters and columnists praise his technical skills in the ring, while I can only nod in agreement.  I’ll take their word for it, whatever.

His use of poetry may have come off as acts of arrogance, but it was a genius move.  Ali used the rhyming couplets to boost his stature, promote an event, and elevate the sport to the realm of entertainment for the masses beyond its core audience of cigar chomping men in rolled up long sleeves.  Even if you weren’t a fan, you could not miss his occasional performances in the spotlight in and outside of the ring.

His years as a boxer took up perhaps half his lifetime.   The other half outside the ring were spent quietly promoting civil rights and justice for all.

At the height of his boxing career, the then Cassius Clay came under the influence of Malcolm X, and converted to Islam.  He joined the Nation of Islam and adopted its racist attitudes towards the white society at large.  Eventually he, like Malcolm X, became disenchanted with the Nation (the Southern Poverty Law Center still lists the NOI as a hate group) and distanced himself from his earlier stance.  He did not convert back from Islam, instead embracing its principles to promote civil rights for all.

This is important to note at a time when a man who has vowed to keep a group out of the country because of their beliefs is poised to become leader of the free world.  Did anyone notice this idea: There are no reports that Ali participated in any acts of violence outside the ring.  In this way he seemed to blend in with the other Muslims in America; quietly going about their lives to prosper for themselves and their children.  He did not seek to destroy the lives of others in the name of Islam.  Take note fellow Americans; we should NOT allow the actions of a comparatively small minority influence our actions to the 1.5 billion adherents of a major world religion.

Ali’s passing at this point is therefore all the more tragic for humanity.   We need his voice now more than ever.  Yes, he could be cocky and arrogant, actions which lead me to turn away, but I understand why he spoke the way he did.  He spoke for a race that has long been abused by the majority establishment. 

His fists would jab and punch with speed and fury,  but his voice would speak softly with eloquence.  He could, as his most quoted couplet went, “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.”  He could rise above the ferocity of everyday conflict, yet make his mark on humanity with a bite that was not rooted in hatred.

Eloquent indeed!

(Thank you for reading.  Rest in Peace, Mr. Ali.)


Blogger Ur-spo said...

very eloquent, indeed.

June 11, 2016 at 10:06 PM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Thank you, Spo. I've seen at least one other journalist state that he also had a dislike for the early Ali. Fortunately, Ali saw the error of his early days and behaved accordingly in his later years.

June 12, 2016 at 8:32 AM  

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