How I learned to love Muhammad Ali

I bet everybody heard the shocking news of the death of the great Muhammad Ali last Friday. I too heard the news on Saturday but did not realize how great he really was. This is my short story about how I learned to love Ali in the last 48 hours…

I was never interested in boxing, hell not even sports. Sure, I heard of the great boxer Muhammad Ali and saw one or two photographs. I also knew that he had Parkinson’s disease but that’s basically it. As I heard the news on Saturday morning I thought “That must be horrible to hear for some people”. Boy, how wrong I was. Over the course of the day I saw so many tributes, tweets from celebrities, politicians, musicians and letter of sympathies of his friends and fans all over the world. “What made this man so great that all these people send their condolences, sharing their stories”, I thought “He was a box champion that’s it.” It was a horrible mistake to think such a thing and I want to apologize for this thought.

I looked him up on the internet trying to find something that could help me understand this cult of personality built around him. His Wikipedia page reads, I quote “ Ali was known as an inspiring, controversial and polarizing figure both inside and outside the ring”, that sounded interesting, that’s exactly the type of person I love. “As he lived in the 60’s and was black, he must have some kind of connection to the civil rights movement” I thought next. But it was so much more than that. Ali refused to take part in the Vietnam War, he was a rebel, an extraordinary one. He was a brave soul, one of the bravest. He stood up for those who had little, he had self confidence like no one else. He came from nothing and got to be something in the end. And I can see now that it doesn’t make a difference if you see him as an activist or box champion. He made a difference, he still makes a difference.

Ali was a goodwill ambassador and an religious man. I respect people who can believe in something greater but also see the world as it is and try to change things for the better. Ali was that kind of person. He tried to bring peace to the world, risking his life and despite his disease continued to work for a greater good. His faith inspired other humans and helped them to get through tough times. His fights in the ring and in the outside world did. He was a symbol of hope and strength for so many who mourn his death these days.

I want to thank not only Muhammad Ali himself but all those people who shared their story with the world. You helped me to understand this human being and to respect him.
May you rest in peace, Ali.

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