Are You a Champion?: Ali Says You Can Be
In one way, I was saddened to hear of Muhammad Ali’s death, the death of his physical body, at least. However, his life force, spirit, energy continue. I know that many thousands of articles will be written today about “the greatest,” but I will do my bit simply because of Ali’s heart and his desire “to use my fame and this face that everyone knows so well to help uplift and inspire people around the word.” He inspired me.
I vividly remember the nasty racial slurs about him and directed at him when I was a boy and Ali was ascending to his greatness. I remember when he refused to enter into military service because he believed in peace, because he so clearly articulated how ludicrous it was for him “to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?” Just common sense but uncommon courage.
But Ali knew about courage. He knew about heart. He was a man who I believe listened to and lived his heart. He expressed core Self, and he desired that for others. No, he was not perfect, but his primary life filter was his heart. He is a man with whom I would have loved to share a meal and conversation. His heart? “I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.” Ego lost, KO’ed. He lived his truth, not mine, yours, or the government’s.
He spoke of the reality and symbolism of his training. Preparation to live his heart was an internal job, not the one that anybody could see or know but himself: “The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road; long before I dance under those lights.” And he recognized that the vision had to be powerful to express such in reality: “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.” He wanted everyone to be a champion in life.
He knew how important it is to live now: “Don’t count the days; make the days count.” No wasting of time because life is too short: “The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.” Start living those dreams, visions. Start the training; do the hard work; face the challenges and fear and self doubt, because “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
This could go on, so I will shorten it by saying that Muhammad Ali understood himself, his heart, his truth, and life in general. He didn’t ignore others; he recognized why we are all here when he said, “The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
I am inspired to continue taking action, treating every day as a training day, visualizing my championship bouts because a “man without imagination has no wings.”
Is it hard to live Self in the face of oppressive pressure to conform? Is it impossible without certain advantages? Only if we refuse to live the truth and only if we refuse to conform to the opinions of the mass of people who live their lives in mediocrity and resignation. I will end with this from “the Greatest.”
“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” Muhammad Ali
With that attitude and belief, we can all be champions.