What Millennials Should Learn From The Greatest

Muhammad Ali is The Greatest.

Everyone you ask in person or on the internet will say so.

Ali himself would tell you.

The internet is truly a beautiful thing sometimes when it gives us the ability to relive moments we could never be there for in the first place. From The Moon Landing, MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, Miracle on Ice, Michael Jordan in general, etc. Among the great and terrible things you can find, Muhammad Ali’s classics are all there. From the infamous shot against Sonny Liston to ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ to Thrilla in Manila everyone that had never gotten the chance to meet the man with the fastest, hardest hitting physicality can watch it all.

Millennials, like myself, never had the ability to see Ali in person, heard on the radio or been anywhere close to those historical moments but luckily technology has caught us up on what we’ve missed. The first time I ever saw Muhammad Ali was on an old ESPN special going through famous sports moments. They showed Jordan’s rings, The Shot by Christian Laetner, The Drive, and of course a side by side of two most famous Ali fights. Boxing at the time was more relevant today but not relevant enough that it was drawing the attendance comparable to the NBA, NFL, or even the MLB. I was gawking though. Being the pacifist that I am and even more so as a boy, I was enamored by the fact that man could be so swift and powerful at the same time.

From that point onward, Muhammad Ali became another staple-named athlete that everyone knew as well as any common sense functions like knowing how to read a clock or involuntarily catching a falling object seen from peripherals. The general responses become bland and repetitive: “Muhammad Ali, man”, “I know! The Greatest. Fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee”. There’s no true emotional response to the phrase as much as the first time we have heard it.

It was not until I started to read Muhammad Ali’s conversations rather than watching it, that I truly realized what The Greatest had to offer for everyone. Ali’s words just outside a practice gym, at the Whitehouse, randomly on a street, or up at a podium rang true and with authentic execution as he never had a script. Ali always spoke from the heart which could be soft or land as hard as his haymakers.

All of his famous speeches for the most are available online and I believe they all contain lessons any one us can take especially Millennials that are just getting out of college in to the unknown, starting a family for the first time, adventuring on a new business idea or even just looking for something to help motivate.

For anyone living life, here are the things The Greatest has said that makes for great brain food.

On Friendship

“Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”

Getting through the tough stuff

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
“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.”


“I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way, but if I have changed even one life for the better, I haven’t lived in vain.”

Not Worrying About Time

“Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.”

Self Worth

“My only fault is that I don’t realize how great I really am.”
“I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given. I believed in myself, and I believe in the goodness of others.”
“It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”
“My principles are more important than the money or my title.”

…& My personal favorite

“I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick; I’m so mean I make medicine sick”

Millennials can take any of these words and apply them to every situation that we may encounter. Above all just believe in yourself. How often do you ever think back to a decision and wonder what would have happened if you did it differently. I am consistently guilty of this and if you asked Ali, he would probably tell you the past is past, you just have to make it last. Forward thinking with positivity, smile, treat others with the upmost respect will not only make your journey easier but everyone elses as well which can make a large impact on this planet.

Muhammad Ali’s voice rings true and he never waivered from how he felt about himself. This is confidence that all of us need as we start our lives or maybe for some of you to put a cherry on top. Ali went through hell and back in many stages of life but still believed truly that life was worth giving it all you got. After defeating the best of the best in the ring, the deniers, the non-believers, those that pushed him to confront his principals, and battling Parkinsons for over 32 years Cassius Clay, Muhammad Ali, The Greatness showed us how to conquer life.

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