Muhammad Ali, humanitarian, civil rights activist and three-time heavyweight boxing champion, born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. died yesterday June 3, 2016.
Muhammad Ali often referred to himself as "The Greatest" and much of the world, including myself, agreed with that proclamation.
Mr. Ali perfectly exemplified the idea in yesterday's post, "Better to Be Strong". I'm not referring to the physical strength he obviously displayed during his many boxing matches. As brilliant as Muhammad Ali was in the ring, his true greatness was outside the ring when he stood up for his belief and rights and fought the United States government.
His refusal to accept induction into the armed forces on religious grounds cost him millions and his heavyweight title, but in the end, Ali came up victorious in the most significant battle of his life.
Ali became one of the most famous and beloved persons in the world, not because of athletic ability, but because of his integrity, character and refusing to allow others to define who he was.
One of my biggest regrets is missing the opportunity to meet Mr. Ali when he visited my parent's house with my uncle.
In 1967, three years after winning the heavyweight title, Ali refused to be conscripted into the U.S. military, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War. He was eventually arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges and stripped of his boxing title. He did not fight again for nearly four years—losing a time of peak performance in an athlete's career. Ali's appeal worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court where, in 1971, his conviction was overturned.
Ali's actions as a conscientious objector to the war took tremendous courage and sacrifice and made him an icon for the larger counterculture generation. History proved him right!
Be inspired by Muhammad Ali's example and start fighting back against oppression. Ali risked everything, comfort, wealth, title, and freedom fighting for his beliefs. What's stopping you from standing up for yourself?
Thank you, Mr. Ali, for sharing your greatness with world, rest in peace.