There Are No “What Ifs” With Muhammad Ali

Ali left nothing up to the imagination. He fought everybody during the greatest era in heavyweight history. He spoke every word on his mind. And he never quit on himself or gave less than 100, in a fight or throughout his career. The only “what if” we can ever ask of him is silly shit like “What if he’d fought a prime Tyson?”. Silly because, as Tyson has admitted himself, Ali would win easily.

Maybe “What if he hadn’t lost those 3 years?” But that’s bullshit. Then he wouldn’t be the man who stood his ground. Then all his great bouts in the 70s wouldn’t have their legendary context. The Ali “story” wouldn’t be much of a story after all.

Or “what if he’d never gotten Parkinson’s”. Bullshit as well. It’s like asking what if Mandela hadn’t served time. Then he just wouldn’t be Mandela.

His passing has got me thinking about legacy, about the shit that stays around long after your body perishes. His is so secure and has been for so long already that to me, his death is almost untragic. Tragedy teaches us “Live life, because it’s short and you never know when you’re gonna go”.

The lesson of Ali’s death, for me, is “Live life, because look at the incredible shit you can accomplish if you do.”

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