So 4th June 2016 is another day for mourning, yet celebrating one of the worlds most influential icons known as the former Cassius Clay, Mohammed Ali.
There’s something so overwhelming about the loss of his character. It makes me sad, but more importantly he has made me think about how great life is, especially when one can be encouraged and spurred on with words that Mohammed Ali used as an armour and as a political weapon.
For me, his events in the ring come second to his relentless campaign for civil rights and his religious influence. Even if you weren’t of black or African-American origin, or of Islamic belief, his words were strikingly poignant and brought you to attention.
I can’t say that there is anyone quite like him. I am, without a shadow of a doubt, glad to have known of him, glad to have grown with him & privileged to carry his words on far into the future as my own life will allow.
And for some of the greatest uses of language by the great Mohammad Ali:
I’m not the greatest. I’m the double greatest. Not only do I knock ‘em out, I pick the round. I’m the boldest, the prettiest, the most superior, most scientific, most skillfullest fighter in the ring today.”
I done something new for this fight. I wrestled with an alligator. I tussled with a whale. I handcuffed lightning, I thrown thunder in jail. Only last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick. I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”
I am America. I am the part you won’t recognise. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky, my name not yours. My religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”
I know I got it made while the masses of black people are catchin’ hell, but as long as they ain’t free, I ain’t free.”
Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn’t choose it and I don’t want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name – it means beloved of God, and I insist people use it when people speak to me and of me.”
People say I talk so slow today. That’s no surprise. I calculated I’ve taken 29,000 punches. But I earned $57m and I saved half of it. So I took a few hard knocks. Do you know how many black men are killed every year by guns and knives without a penny to their names? I may talk slow, but my mind is OK.”
What I suffered physically was worth what I’ve accomplished in life. A man who is not courageous enough to take risks will never accomplish anything in life.”