Only those over 55 can really appreciate the times and meanings of The Greatest. For his actions both in and out of the ring during the 60’s and 70’s and beyond were something to behold. Far from popular with a lot of people. But loved by many. And as time went on loved by all. For he embodied the athlete many would aspire to become but also became a man who changed the world.
Back when the sport of Boxing was more popular than Football. Well for those of you not from the US (NFL Football). Ali was the KING. You could sense many special things about this man.
He was someone you had to watch and listen to even if you didn’t like him. I did like him for the most part and respected his beliefs but he could still say things that would rub me wrong. But when looking back after time you understand. I was looking at some of his famous quotes in a USA Today article with his 30 famous quotes.
Things like “It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.” said when a man is young are hard to understand. But if you take his history and legacy now it’s within context. And it probably was true in his day. He saw no equal in the ring and few outside it.
He would get into people’s heads with words and sometimes you could see other fighters already doubting before the first punch was thrown. How can Ali saying “If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize.” not get into someone mind? Or another one of my favorites “How tall are you? So I can know in advance how far to step back when you fall down!” And yet another one that would scare most mortals. “I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.”
He had worldly insights and said things to make everyone think. “Hating people because of their color is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.”
He had wise advice for all humans. “Live everyday as if it were your last because someday you’re going to be right.” Or this one, “Don’t count the days; make the days count.” And maybe the best one of all for each of us. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” And one of my favorites, “Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”
Controversial things like the following quote which in retrospect is probably accurate. “I’m the most recognized and loved man who ever lived cuz there weren’t no satellites when Jesus and Moses were around, so people far away in the villages didn’t know about them.”
Then things like this that you kind of always suspected about the man behind the mouth. “At home I am a nice guy: but I don’t want the world to know. Humble people, I’ve found, don’t get very far.”
So a wish for his final journey that he float like a butterfly to a comfortable place. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see. Now you see me, now you don’t. George thinks he will, but I know he won’t.” Well we all saw you Ali and it was magical.
For he was da Greatest who said – “I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”
He carried the sport of boxing to great heights, not seen in many decades. He was a unifying figure late in life when so much had been stripped from him. Recognized the world over. For if you live like this, your being true to yourself. And his last quote about being stripped of his title and license to fight over refusing the draft into the Vietnam war, “They did what they thought was right, and I did what I thought was right.”
Ali seemed to always be speaking the truth.