So Muhammad Ali is dead.
He used to be the epitome of strength. He was the superman who was said to often refuse to wear seatbelts in planes. Some audacious quotes credited to him include (www.usatoday.com):
“I”m so mean, I make medicine sick.”
“He’s (Sonny Lister) too ugly to be the world champ. The world champ should be pretty like me.”
“I’ve wrestled with alligators. I’ve tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning. And throw thunder in jail.”
These quotes are however between 30 and 40 years old since he suffered from Parkinson’s for over 30 years. First, I wondered that Parkinson’s is not a disease of former boxers. Then I imagined what it would have been like for a strong man to become weak. Would he have been heartbroken? Or maybe depressed? Did he ever come to terms with his ‘new’ reality? Or did he live the rest of his life in regrets?
Then I found a book written by Muhammad Ali in 2004, titled The Soul of a Butterfly. The contents are so refreshing and reassuring. He made such statements like:
“During my boxing career, you did not see the real Muhammad Ali. You just saw a little boxing and a little showmanship. It was after I retired from boxing that my true work began.”
His audacious and popular quotes were just like statements from a movie! One just wonders how many people on earth know that he did not even take himself so seriously!
“When I look at the world, I see that many people build big beautiful houses but live in broken homes. We spend more time learning how to make a living than we do learning to make a life.” Hmm! His life was not about strength and boxing. He must certainly have lived a full life even in his weakness!
“Over the years my religion has changed and my spirituality has evolved. Religion and spirituality are very different, but people often confuse the two. Some things cannot be taught, but they can be awakened in the heart.” Truly, as someone said, “He who has an argument stands no chance with him who has an experience.”
“No matter where I go, everybody recognises my face and knows my name. People love and admire me; they look up to me. That’s a lot of power and influence for one man to have, so I know I have a responsibility to use my fame the right way!” Wow! All politicians and spiritual leaders need to learn from him!
“People say that I gave away too much money during my boxing career. They write about how some people took advantage of me, stole from ,e and how I let them get away with it. Even when I knew people were cheating me, what was important was how I behaved, because I have to answer to God. I can’t be responsible for other people’s actions: They will have to answer to God themselves.” M. Ali’s strength was more within than outside!
“At night when I go to bed, I ask myself, ‘If I don’t wake up tomorrow, would I be proud of how I lived today?’ With that question in mind, I have tried to do as many good deeds as I can, whether it is standing up for my faith, signing an autograph, or simply shaking a person’s hand.” The words M. Ali should be remembered for are those that most people do not know!
He appeared limitless, but he knew his limits and boundaries; and he hitched himself to Him who has no limits. He built strength within himself to carry his frame when most of his physical strength was gone! I doubt if he could have died depressed or heartbroken!
Of Strength and Frailty
So Muhammad Ali is dead.