A Brief Eulogy for Boxer, Poet, and Genuine Goddamn Human Muhammad Ali

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

“Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.”

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

“The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.”

“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.”

“A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

“I don’t have to be what you want me to be.”

– Muhammad Ali

A sportsman, poet, and hero of human rights has died – rest in peace Muhammad Ali. Though I am not much of an aficionado of boxing, this great human being has had a profound influence on my worldview ever since I first learned of his conscientious objection to and rejection of the Vietnam draft. I was maybe fourteen or fifteen, just becoming socially and politically aware, and the idea that an athlete could and would take such a principled and public stand absolutely floored me.

Ali fused his profession – boxing – with his flair for communication – poetry – and his spirit – compassion – and achieved something incredible: an unbridled love for humanity. This is strange thing to emerge from a person who hit people for a living.

This man of manifold talents spent decades holding a moral compass for the rest of us, whether we followed or ignored it. He was a fighter who told us that war was wrong. A gold-mouthed shit-talker who who advocated tact and delicacy. A polarizing, beast of a man who expressed that we should love our neighbors above all else. He combined physicality and poetry with so much seamless talent that Hemingway would have traded his shooting hand for it.

No one lives forever, but the world will miss Muhammad Ali. We were better off with him than without.

I’d like to close with a quote from Ali’s assistant trainer Bundini Brown that I think we all should keep in mind:

“We get up in the morning feeling tired. Sometimes we feel good, sometimes bad. But we go through it with feeling.”

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