The world was shocked when three-time heavy weight champ Muhammad Ali passed away last Friday, June 3, 2016. Many people took to social media and expressed their disbelief and sorrows, citing Ali’s famous quotes in their tweets and status updates. While it can be appreciated that this generation cared enough to take time out of their busy schedules to show how much they care about a man that was portrayed by actor Will Smith, Ali’s good deeds should never just be glazed over or referred to as a “deep and inspirational” quote to receive 50 likes. He was more than just an athlete, he was a father, a brother, a mentor, an activist, and so much more.
In 1967, Ali, Bill Russell, Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and many other athletes joined forces to make a collective stand against the Vietnam War. Of course, this did not take place without consequence; Ali was not only banned from boxing, but his title was stripped from him. He believed so much that the war was wrong and that it was of no benefit to him because “ain’t no VietCong ever called me nigger.”
Today, we have so many opportunities to do what is right, to stand for what we believe in, regardless of its popularity with the masses, however it seems as if we won’t speak out unless we know for sure we will get a nod of approval from almost everyone around us.
We cannot give recognition and honor to a man who was the complete opposite and we practice good deeds out of selfish gain; it taints his entire life and is an unfair portrayal of Ali. Muhammad Ali left a model for us: to speak up, to defend, and to never be afraid or ashamed of your rationale. So as we go about our daily routines and get an itch to speak on the wrongs, may we never shrink back in fear but remember “he who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life”; and that is how you honor the Greatest Of All Time.