As I walked into the Muhammad Ali Center I read a mission statement in bold black letters, it stated “To preserve and share the legacy and the ideals of Muhammad Ali, to promote, respect, honor, and understanding and to inspire adults and children everywhere, to be as great as they can be.
Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. later known as Muhammad Ali, was an African American boxer, and was proud of it. Many African Americans were ashamed of their color, but Ali was different. He was the first boxer to win the Heavyweight Championship 3 different times. He had a great personality and was liked by the people. During his life, he made big decisions that changed the course of his life completely. Muhammad Ali’s journey through life was a great inspiration for African American people, but Ali himself inspires admiration to everybody.
Muhammad Ali was a man made to box. He had a great career before him since he made his first professional fight under President Eisenhower presidency. Through hard work and discipline, he became a professional fighter and eventually the heavyweight champion of the world. Although he lost the title twice, he regained it three times, putting him in the history books. His boxing career was put to an end when he started suffering from Parkinson’s disease. This was the end of his boxing, but his greatness will never die.
Muhammad Ali wanted to see peace in the country, especially racial peace. Also, he was not totally convinced with the idea of segregation because it is not good to make people be together against their will. This way of thinking and qualities is what Malcolm X saw in Ali, and therefore thought Ali could be a great messenger for the African Americans .Ali’s ideas and actions distinguished him from the rest, he was an inborn leader.
During his life, Ali was forced to make some tough decisions, and always made them his own way. At the time of Ali’s fighting, the United States were involved in the Vietnam War. As a result, young Americans were been drafted to serve in the military. When political figures saw Ali fighting, they decided to stop the hurting of our own and draft him, so he hurts the people in Vietnam. Ali was not pleased with this decision, because he had just won the Heavyweight Championship and because he said, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong”. His final decision on the issue was that he would not go to war. He was not willing to go and kill people, while his own are in bad conditions at home. In the same way, he was forced to decide if he wanted to become a billionaire and sell his people, or to become poor and not sell his people. For this rebel action, his Heavyweight Title was taken away and he was put in jail. This did not matter to him because he had followed his beliefs and obeyed Allah. He has taught his people a lesson, and that is what satisfies him. Ali’s strong beliefs cut his uprising career and took away his greatest years as a person and as a boxer.
A very important quality that shapes Ali’s personality is his faith in religion. Ali risked his whole career in making a choice, right or wrong. To his eyes, the correct action was to stay and face the consequences, but not go and kill innocent people. He did not agree with discrimination, and said, “People are people: God created us all.” Ali was Muslim and changed his name because he had the name of his father which was passed down from a slave master. He followed his beliefs strongly and without hesitation. He went to jail because he preferred to follow Allah’s laws than the land laws. His actions were greatly criticized, but also greatly supported.
The country was divided in two during the time Ali and the Vietnam War were alive. The Civil Rights divided the country in two. The first group was those people that did not have an opinion on the War, so they approved it. This people thought that Ali was bad, they even feared the champion. They thought he was manipulated by his religion, and was dangerous to the society. In the other hand, the second group of people that thought the war was wrong and wanted to put a stop to it. They viewed it as a waste of time and resources. This people supported Ali and liked him. Ali was different. He had such a strong personality that he did belong to the anti-war group, but, did not participate in the organizations. He stood alone and this made him stand out. His ability to unite people under one cause made him very special and liked by most people.
Muhammad Ali was different from other African Americans because he saw himself as equal to a white man. He did not think of himself as less or inferior, he even considered himself, “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali had a very high self-esteem and this gave him the motivation and confidence to do what he wanted. In his opinion, Black people wanted a country of their own, a country they could run and look for. Black people deserve this, because African Americans will never be free in this country, a change has to occur. The white people have brainwashed all African Americans in thinking only white is good. This kind of thought makes black people feel inferior and therefore are inferior. Ali had a good control over young kids because they looked up to him. He told this kids that the primary key for his successful career and victory in fights was that he won intellectually first, and then fought. To have this intellectual skill, go to school and get educated, then, African Americans may start rising. Ali tried to make it possible for more and more blacks to succeed in life.
Muhammad Ali had never visited South Africa due to the fact that the white government of that country was racist. The black people were treated really unfairly and without compassion. Finally, he decided to make a twelve-day visit to this country. People still regard him as the greatest and many people listen to him. Ali is just glad that at least in some places, discrimination is decreasing, but he is still fighting to solve it in other places. Muhammad Ali gave speeches, visited places and met people. At the time he visited the country, assassinations, riots, and violence were taking place. Ali had the power to and influence with his presence to keep the peace and change the behavior of millions of Blacks. He is a positive image and example to many people, his only presence influences and impacts people greatly.
Ali has been deteriorated physically by Parkinson’s Disease. Ali sees this as nothing, and wants to help people that share his same misfortune. His goal is now to help everybody who needs it, so he is backing up a research on the disease to try and find a cure. He is hoping his name will inspire people to unite for this cause and help in the research. Also, many people would think that Ali is now defeated and finished, but for him, boxing was the introduction to his life. He views that boxing introduced him to life and now it is when he has to live. He has to act to stop discrimination, especially racial, worldwide. Also, the world is filled with crime and hunger. He wants to help this people and stop these wrong actions. With the support and image Ali has, he may be able to help current leaders, as he helped his black brothers, solve this threatening problems.
Muhammad Ali is a man of class, honor and intelligence. He has taught not only his Black brothers, but also everybody in the world we are all equal. To African Americans he is very important for his support. Muhammad Ali’s journey through life was a great inspiration for African American people, but Ali himself inspires admiration to everybody. His ideas and actions give us all an example of what it is to really believe in something and risk losing it all for doing what is right. Ali’s actions and decisions showed us he was not afraid of failure. His tranquility and determination made some people admire him. He made his decisions and stuck to them. Like he said, “And now the whole world knows that, so far as my own beliefs are concerned, I did what was right for me”.
Not only did I see the mission statement as I entered the center I couldn’t help but stop and read it again before I left. While reading it again I thought about the café exhibit where you walk in and the bell rings a voice says, “Get out we don’t serve your kind.” The café exhibit let me experience some of the feelings my ancestors had for decades however I experienced this feeling for only a few hours. I learned that Muhammad Ali not only paved the way in the ring he had a hand in paving the way for many African Americans and their right to equality. At the center I also learned a lot of history on Ali and his journey.