“I never thought of losing, but now that its happened, the only thing is to do the right thing. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me.”
Muhammad Ali, after 1st loss of career
Today is ALI’s 70th Birthday. His body is disease ridden….both old and frail…..but he remains still a singular force in American sports. He also is BD’s # 1 all time favorite athlete….philosopher….and life teacher….although not by design….nor from the outset of his career.
There are an infinite number of reasons why ALI…..”The Greatest of All Time”….is the most riveting….the most polarizing….and the most enduring athlete of the past 50+ years….as he still remains so today. The truth is even 35 years after winning the Heavyweight Title for the fourth time….he is still today….the most demographically known HUMAN on the face of the Earth. I dare say that much like when he was fighting some three decades ago….more people know his name around the world….than those that know the name of any other person on the planet.
Back in the early days of his fighting career….ALI was a seemingly arrogant mouth whom BD wished and hoped that someone would close it permanently in the ring. To say that BD did not like ALI was an understatement. The fact is that ALI’s career makes the idea of Tim Tebow being “a polarizing figure” almost laughable. If you think being an outspoken evangelical in 2012 is tough….try being a member of the Nation of Islam in 1964 and a Vietnam War protestor in 1967. You want polarizing? We’ve got your polarizing right out of ALI’s mouth here:
“I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. No Viet Cong ever called me a nigger.”
However, it was when ALI was willing to publically stand up against the Vietnam War….and refuse to serve in the military and go to war….willing to be incarcerated for his beliefs….ultimately giving up the three (3) best years of his boxing career….that’s when ALI won BD over….cuz by this time in BD’s life….standing up for what you believed in was the true measure of a man in America. Although BD had chosen to serve as an officer and a gentleman in the U S Army….he admired ALI for the stance he took….and the price he was willing to pay for his right to have and stand by his own chosen beliefs.
Now I’m just a little ole nobody Chiweenee….but it seems to me that the willingness to stand up for what you truly believe is what is missing in all the Congressmen, Senators and Presidents….along with most of the well known athletes and celebrities in America today. I cannot tell what any of those folks really believe in any more….that is other than the ole greenback dollar. The truth is that the Tim Tebows of the world….the folks who stand up for things worthwhile other than money….are few and far between when you look around today. The old adage…“If you don’t stand up for something….you’ll fall for anything.”….is more in play today than any time in our country’s history….as Americans are falling for more of the untruths that the politicians are feeding them….and that is of great concern to this lil ole Red White and Blue Chiweenie.
Ali Ali Ali
Anyway….from that day forward….when ALI had to vacate his title and go to jail for what he believed in….that was the beginning of a wonderful period whereby the teacher….Muhammad Ali…..began teaching the student….Bone Daddy….a philosophy of life that would help BD tremendously along the rest of his life’s path to the present. The old saying that “When the student is ready….the teacher appears”was certainly at play from that point forward in BD’s life….as here are a few philosophical nuggets of gold from ALI for anyone to live by:
“Service to others is the rent paid for your room here on Earth”
“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it is
the pebble in your shoe”
“I never thought of losing, but now that it happened, the only thing is to do it right. That is my obligation to all the people who believe in me.”
Beyond the dignity of these words….lies some serious philosophies of life….simple….poignant….and true….which if followed everyday of one’s life….would prove to be the foundation for a very rich and valued epitaph. Underlying what was probably ALI’s most famous quote….”float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” ….which most HUMANS thought was said in reference to his boxing style….when actually it was his most wonderful philosophy for which shaped his life.
Since the only constant in life is change….ALI tells us to float when the winds of change blow hardest throughout all of our lives….and not only to float….but to float just like a butterfly….cuz no matter how delicate a butterfly might be….their ability to survive is evidenced by the 1,500 miles journey of the monarch butterfly from Texas to a gathering place deep in the heart of Mexico every year….which gives all the proof you HUMANS need in regards to the value of floating like a butterfly. When a HUMAN can actually learn to float like a butterfly….especially when all around them the winds of life are changing….then they can sting like a bee….when they see something to put their stinger into that they want to be a part of their lives. By learning to apply this simple philosophy to their lives….they will be able to not only endure….but also have those things that they treasure most along their life’s path….even when the winds of change are changing everything.
That is such an awesome philosophy to live by in any HUMANS life….and it came from such an undeniable character….so I couldn’t write about ALI without including some of this little ole Chiweenee’s favorite quotes of his in my story today….so here goes:
“I beat him so bad, he’ll need a shoehorn to put his hat on.”
“I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.”
“I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was.”
What ALI told Will Smith when they met for the 1st time after Smith agreed to portray ALI in a movie carrying his name:
“Man, you’re almost pretty enough to play me.”
What a little boy dying of cancer told ALI as he lay in his hospital bed:
“I’m going to meet God, and I’m going to tell Him you are my friend.”
Holy God Dog….that one brings a tear to my eyes every time I read it….so in finishing the opening to my tribute to MUHAMMAD ALI….here’s a couple of little known facts that carry great weight with my Bone Daddy….especially when it comes to ALI as follows:
Here is a random but eclectic group of irascible sports figures….ALI / Al Davis / Jerry Tarkanian….as all either won cases before the Supreme Court of the United States….or in Davis’s case….won because the court refused to hear the case.
Considering all the in-stadium sing-a-longs and chants of all time….none of them come even close to the emotional impact that night in Zaire had with this chant by the pro-ALI crowd:
“Ali boom-ba-ya” “Ali boom-ba-ya” “Ali boom-ba-ya”
As ALI turns 70 years old….the irony doesn’t get much sadder than this by most standards of HUMAN grasp….as ALI and the mouth that roared so loud it was heard all around the world….was eventually struck nearly mute….not by a devastating punch but rather by a disease that would take most superior athletes to their knees….but not ALI.
As for Bone Daddy….it is Ali’s voice….his words….his philosophies….and his life’s lessons to be taught….that remain today an integral part of each day’s approach to life that BD has on this Earth….and for this I pay tribute to his # 1. The Greatest not only has blessed and adorned Bone Daddy’s collection….but he has also bestowed untold blessings his life….as evidenced by the way he chose to live his life.
FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY AND STING LIKE A BEE