by Miles Jones Jr.
Though I never met him, I always imagined Muhammad Ali as an impossibly tall man, maybe around eight feet high. While I never spoke to him, I imagine he would have said “Miles, Miles my man, you’re a good dude, keep doing what you’re doing and never give up.” And though I have never seen him, not even in grainy footage of his old boxing matches, I imagine he looks like a boss.
As mentioned, I never knew the man, never met the man, never spoke to the man and never engaged with the man, his life or its achievements in any way. But aren’t we all united today in accepting that Muhammad Ali was a man who definitely inspired all of us to be the best we could be? Was he not, regardless of our ignorance, a welcome ally in our own everyday struggles? Chances are, probably not.
For example, I hear he was not some All-American Superhero figure. In fact he was quite divisive. Coming up at a time when civil rights and equality for persons of colour was still a fight, not an argument. This is a man who would not necessarily hold up his star spangled banner and ‘Support the Troops’ because he was a conscientious objector to the war in Vietnam simply because, well, just watch this.
As an ignorant member of the newsmedia I was initially reluctant to take on this job, because the world and his wife is right now telling us how amazing a man Ali was, even when they knew as little about him as I did. Terminal Context, and myself personally, do not like abusing such tragic departings to drum up views and numbers. We don’t want to write wikipedia write-ups on subjects we know little about.
But it does not take much probing into this man’s life to see he is not legendary because he kept his nose to the grindstone, played by the rules and got on with his work. He does not depart this corporeal world a legend because of flag-waving jingoism or simplistic support for common trends. This was a man of the people who gained his popularity by telling us how wrong we all were. This is the man who cast off the shackles of his slave name, disregarded an Olympic gold medal by throwing it into the Ohio River, and openly challenged the entire white American public to a battle to the death, just so he could be the free man he always wanted to be. This man is a legend because he was a fighter, not a boxer. And he fought for what he felt was right, despite massive public opinion being against him. And he’s still regarded as a hero and a legend.
It doesn’t really matter if you have not seen every Ali fight. His boxing may have been outstanding, but strangely for a man who achieved everything in his sport and became known as the greatest of all time, his biggest achievements were in the sport of life. He was a man with revolutionary ideas and attitudes who despite it all was still a champion of the people. Remember that next time you’re fighting, whether in sports, politics or everyday socialising, to put a person down. Ali only ever fought to bring people up.
Man the world really lost a good guy today. Rest in Peace, Ali.