Monday, June 6, 2016

Muhammad Ali - The Greatest is called home

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay. Named for his father. Both men shared the same name as the Kentucky planter and abolitionist. The name was replaced when he became Muhammad Ali. But it never changed the magnificent athlete he was. "Just a pretty piece of leather well put together." Yes, the Mouth has been silenced but the impact lives on.

I first became aware of the boxer when I was just a widdle kid. My grandfather loved boxing and followed it religiously. Gramps had friends who'd frequent the Philly training spot, The Blue Horizon. Let's just say I learned Muhammed Ali had a "righteous right hook" before I knew what it meant.  Later, as I got older, I appreciated more about him.

His legendary trash talking was fashioned in the style of wrestler Gorgeous George. I call Mr. Ali the first metaphysical boxer. He'd get inside the heads of his opponents and beat them up first that way. Once in the ring, he'd just bring his talent and finish 'em.

I was barely forming words when he won in the '60 Rome Olympics. He went on to go professional but would not compromise his beliefs concerning his stance on Vietnam and his decision to join the Nation of Islam. Refusing to go to 'Nam costs him his titles , nearly four years of his boxing career and numerous death threats from "patriots" who called him traitor. Anyhoo, it took the US Supreme court to overturn his conviction in '71.

He overcame it all to come back strong. Ever the showman, he gave folks what they wanted in addition to his skill. He was know worldwide. By millions. And that was before Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

R. I. P. champ!

ps. I must confess the physique of a boxer or a swimmer or a martial arts practitioner does it for me. I am not into hulking bodybuilder types or walking building types. So when I got older, Ali really registered on my radar. Just sayin.'

pps Also, this "he transcended race" news reporting is soooooo disingenuous. Ali never did that. He was Black and Muslim and vilified for it by OTHERS (mostly White media) who could not reconcile that this man could enjoy his life and accomplish great things while being all that. What made him great was that he NEVER saw his race or religion as something to be "transcended." He just was.Ali doing what he did. Perfectly.  So please, please, please miss me with that revisionist, editorial bs. IT IS NOT A BURDEN TO BE A POC nor are we looking to "transcend" who we are!

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