RIP Muhammad Ali, the Greatest of all time.
Though Ali’s 74 years of purposeful existence has come to an end, he will always be remembered for his determination to leverage his boxing fame for social justice and peace.
Muhammad Ali opposed the Vietnam War and refused military service, choosing imprisonment (the stripping of his championship title and boxing license for three years) in the 1960s. He supported the Organization of African Unity (African Union) and stood up for Nelson Mandela against apartheid. He funded various humanitarian causes as he struggled with and raised awareness of the Parkinson’s disease. He defended the civil rights of his fellow Black Americans, exposing America’s double standard.
As his biographer Thomas Hauser said, “Muhammad Ali was a beacon of hope for oppressed people” all over the world. He left behind a legacy of fighting for freedom, justice and equality.
Muhammad Ali released the following statement last December when the fascistic Republican candidate Donald Trump suggested that Muslims should be banned from entering the United States:
“I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world. True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.
“We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda. They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody.
“Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is.”
Muhammad Ali was also known for his poetic prowess, unapologetic to his sharp criticizm of racism and inequality in the United States.
Here are our top 15 picks from his most famous quotes:
“I have been so great in boxing they had to create an image like Rocky, a white image on the screen, to counteract my image in the ring. America has to have its white images, no matter where it gets them. Jesus, Wonder Woman, Tarzan and Rocky.”
“Cassius Clay is a name that white people gave to my slave master. Now that I am free, that I don’t belong anymore to anyone, that I’m not a slave anymore, I gave back their white name, and I chose a beautiful African one.”
“Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.”
“I never thought of losing, but now that it’s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.”
“My toughest fight was with my first wife.”
“I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given. I believed in myself, and I believe in the goodness of others.”
“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”
“I would say things like ‘I am the greatest! I’m pretty! If you talk jive, you’ll drop in five! I float like a butterfly, sting like a bee! I’m pretty!’ When white people heard me talking like this, some said, ‘That black man talks too much. He’s bragging.’ It’s hard to be humble, when you’re as great as I am.”
“Boxing is a lot of white men watching two black men beat each other up.”
“A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he’ll never crow. I have seen the light and I’m crowing.”
“My principles are more important than the money or my title.”
“I know I got it made while the masses of black people are catchin’ hell, but as long as they ain’t free, I ain’t free. White people just don’t want their slaves to be free. That’s the whole thing.”
“I wanted to use my fame and this face that everyone knows so well to help uplift and inspire people around the world.”
“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”
“People don’t realize what they had till it’s gone.”