From David Anthony Hohol…
Today a small piece of me passed away. Very few times in life do people have the chance to witness real heroism and true bravery. Muhammad Ali was man who gave us both. He was a genuine hero to me from the youngest of ages and I was blessed to have had the chance to witness at least part of what was an amazing life – a truly global life that influenced so many the world over. He will always be the Greatest of All Time. The world simply does not produce many like him and he will be missed by all those he touched. I miss him already.
Born on January 17th 1942, Muhammad Ali’s part time job was being the 3-time heavyweight Champion of the world. In reality, he was a politician, a diplomat, a social activist, a poet and a living breathing inspiration to people around the globe. Before or since, there has never been an individual who has fused sports and politics to such incredible depths, reaching unimaginable heights in the process. When this writer was just a young boy, I read the following words from Ali in a newspaper story. Immediately thereafter and forever since, I’ve been enthralled by the man:
“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.”
Although I was old enough to witness his recapturing of the heavyweight crown from Leon Spinx, Ali’s career was already winding down when I discovered him. That being said, I became a student of history, watching documentaries, reading books and talking to both my father and grandfathers about a man who somehow became so very important to small town Canadian farm boy not yet ten years old. As I began to make my way through my teens, I slowly came to realize the political landscape Ali so daringly traversed in his day and he roused my independent spirit even more. By the the time I grew into a man, I found myself standing before the life of Muhammad Ali in awe.
The following is an Ali quote after being stripped of his boxing license in 1967 for refusing induction into the Army in protest against the Vietnam War. Keep in mind blacks were not even allowed to vote in America until 1960 and segregation was still commonplace in many parts of the country at this time:
“I ain’t draft dodging. I ain’t burning no flag. I ain’t running to Canada. I’m staying right here. You want to send me to jail? Fine, you go right ahead. I’ve been in jail for 400 years. I could be there for 4 or 5 more, but I ain’t going no 10,000 miles to help murder and kill other poor people. If I want to die, I’ll die right here, right now, fightin’ you, if I want to die. You my enemy, not no Chinese, no Vietcong, no Japanese. You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice. You my opposer when I want equality. Want me to go somewhere and fight for you? You won’t even stand up for me right here in America, for my rights and my religious beliefs. You won’t even stand up for my rights here at home.”
I remember feeling goose bumps when I watched the grainy video of Ali walking out of the courtroom and ranting, unrehearsed and off the cuff, challenging the status quo, unafraid to be who he was, and living out loud what he believed. I was inspired not to box, (although I did for a time) but to stand up for myself, to say what I wanted, to do what I wanted, and to be what wanted to be. He came of age in a time of change and was not afraid to be suffer the consequences of chasing after it, of pioneering it, of being the living embodiment of the change he wanted to see in the world around him. How can one not be inspired by his story?
Below, minus the two epic quotations above and in no discernible order, are ten memorable Muhammad Ali Quotes. Every single one of them transfers beyond the ring and into the very human experience of living life . What a giant of a man he truly was, the likes of which we will never see again.
- Only a man who knows what it’s like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win.”
- “You lose nothing when fighting for a cause … In my mind the losers are those who don’t have a cause they care about.”
- “The man with no imagination has no wings.”
- “Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong.”
- “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.”
- “The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.”
- “He who’s not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life”
- “To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.”
- “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.”
- “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion’.”