“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see, rumble young man, rumble!”
I’m writing this while watching the multi faith funeral of Muhammad Ali live on television. We all know him through boxing, his rhymes, his poetry, his boldness (some may say arrogance), his highs, his lows, his triumphs and failures. We all feel like we knew Muhammad Ali. Transcending sport, a black man, civil rights activist and philanthropist.
Ali in Ghana in 1964
Born a black boy in Louisville Kentucky at a time when black people in America were considered to be 3/5th of a human and no right to vote.
I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize, but get used to me. Black, confident, cocky — my name, not yours. My religion, not yours. My goals, my own. Get used to me.
Ali punched his way out of poverty, travelled the world and on the way ‘got back to his roots’ as he, an African-American embraced Africa.
#Alibomaye: Rumble in the Jungle – Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Ali is a symbol of inspiration and hope, but also a picture of a boxer who boxed too long. Probably because of money and all the people who relied on him.
Parkinson’s disease – It’s been widely believed that Ali’s illness was linked to some of the injuries he suffered from his prolonged career. But in true Ali form, he didn’t let that define him.
A positive was that he brought the neurological disease to the forefront, a need for a cure.
“God gave me this illness to remind me that I’m not number One. He is.”
The world will always remember The Greatest bBoxer Of All Time (#GOAT), for the champ he really was – inside and outside the ring. Ali wasn’t perfect but he made a difference.
“If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologise!”
“I’ve wrestled with alligators,
I’ve tussled with a whale.
I done handcuffed lightning
And throw thunder in jail.
You know I’m bad.
Just last week, I murdered a rock,
Injured a stone, Hospitalized a brick.
I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.”
Pictures: Google, Getty
Snippets of an African legacy, from a colourful perspective.