We’ve all recently heard the news that Our Great Muhammad Ali has died. The news actually made me cry a little bit. Because for years my dad raved about him. Told me stories of the hope he inspired.
How his family and friends used to gather around the radio, just to hear word for word what was happening in the fight. That was until they became the first family on their street with a television. Needless to say, my dad spoke about him so much that the thought of Ali triggers thoughts of my dad. The ironic thing being that I learned lessons from Mr. Muhammad that I didn’t learn from my dad, and also lessons that my dad taught me that Ali lived out and reinforced.
As I became a man, I became a student of the boxing art, and I began to study Ali. Not just for his apparent skill level. But I studied his qualities and character. I fell in love with the strength in him. I have posters, books, movies, and documentaries all about Ali. So after the years of absorbing information and perspectives, here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned.
5 Life Lessons We Can Learn From Muhammad Ali
1. Allow Yourself to Become
One day young Cassius Clay and his brother Rahman went to a show. Only to come back outside to discover his bike was stolen. His family was not wealthy, so losing this bike meant more than just walking home sad.
In his process of reporting it. Someone told him that there was a police officer downstairs. It’s interesting to see how this divine orchestration works. Because the police officer just so happened to be in this boxing gym. Ali says as soon as he walked in, he fell in love with everything about it.
He began to tell the officer what happened and how when he found the thief, he was going to beat this person up. The officer (Joe Martin) told him he needed to learn how to fight before he went around picking fights. After this encounter with destiny, the young 12-year-old boy who wasn’t a fighter, became a fighter.
All of us have had this encounter in some form or another. Most people ignore it. They become numb to the nudging and deaf to the voice of destiny. Ali listened. I was told by a multimillionaire one day, “sometimes your best isn’t needed. You just need to do what’s required.”
That bit of wisdom changed my life and allowed me to focus on what is important versus over exertion. Allowing yourself to become what you need to become focuses your energy and brings a strong sense of identity. It frees you to follow your purpose and build on what you were designed to be versus what you were taught to be.
2. Believe in Yourself.
I AM THE GREATEST! Billions of people heard these words rise from the spirit of Muhammad Ali. He devoured Sonny Liston, went to war with Joe Frazier, and made a mockery of the man who hit so hard, he made larger than life heavyweights fly across the ring. Yes, George foreman himself had to take account of Ali’s genius.
I don’t think anyone exemplified this any better than Ali. When you’ve dug so deep within who you are. You’ve pushed yourself to the limits and have gone past what you thought you could do. You discover things about yourself that give you supreme confidence in your ability. Some people give it a negative connotation and call it arrogance. They’ll tell you to tone it down and be humble.
The truth is we live in a world of timid people who are fighting and trying their best to be “normal.” So your confidence offends them. But Mr. Ali teaches us different. He teaches us to exalt and proclaim your greatness. Win or lose, understand and fall in love with your greatness. Never dull yourself down to make weak people feel comfortable. It’s a warriors’ mentality at its purest form.
3. Stand For Something.
Its 1967, Muhammad Ali is in his prime. Nobody in sight could touch him. He sustained victories over Cooper, Patterson, Chuvalo, Terrell just to name a few. All of a sudden the war in Vietnam has a huge flare. M
Muhammad Ali had been inducted to the U.S. draft. He then does something so against the grain it did two things. It first infuriated people. In the eyes of some Americans, denying the draft meant that you were “unpatriotic.” The Ali camp received huge backlash from his denial, position against the war, and his comments.
The second thing it did was inspired people. Most people understood that his position was strong and rooted in good morals. Being able to stand against the ridicule and hate to maintain your position was a huge sign of bravery.
My mom always said to stand for something or fall for anything. This is a call to again, find your identity and who you are. Knowing this is the only way to know what is acceptable in your life. Knowing who you are is knowing who you are not.
Ali knew this, and he taught us this in an infallible fashion. By sacrificing his time, money, passion, title, and potentially his freedom.
4. Have Faith.
According to biblical text, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”-Hebrews 11:1 Let’s hone in on the, “evidence of things not seen” part. We live in a day in time where skepticism is a way of life. People wouldn’t believe their own hand if it weren’t attached to them.
There’s more to life and its inner workings than our eyes can see. And far past our level of understanding. That’s why science is always playing ketchup ( Haha…get it? I meant catch up, but I said ketchup…oh never mind!). But fear of the unknown is what keeps the minds of people trapped in a box.
This box is called logic. But faith on the other hand is the absence of fear. It is pure and highly concentrated belief. Having this will propel you farther than the well thought out facts and statistics.
Ali definitely had this. As a child he would tell the neighborhood children how great he was going to be. “I’m going to be the heavyweight champion of the world.” Of course they all would laugh.
Especially because no one in his family was anywhere close to heavyweight size. But he did what few people are persistent enough to do. And that’s make good on your promises. Faith allows you to borrow strength from the vision of your future and conquer the challenges facing you today.
5. Understand Your Purpose.
Muhammad Ali used to record some of the conversations him and his children had so they could listen to them later as adults. Coincidentally, these recordings came the centerpiece of the “I Am Ali” documentary.
He to his daughter Maryum this profound truth that I want us all to learn. He said, “Maryum everything Allah made has a purpose. the trees have a purpose- What’s the purpose of a cow?…What’s the purpose of the sun?…if the sun, trees, animals, and ants have a purpose. You’re a human being. What’s your purpose?”
The lesson in this is obvious. Purpose is the beginning point of all success. Figuring this out is infinitely more important than any exam. What does it gain a man (or woman) to get all the degrees possible and he/she still not know their purpose? The society that has been created heightens the repetition of education.
And suppresses the innate instincts we have to grow and become who we are called to be. There are trillions of dollars spent to keep your mind in the logic box, where they can teach you what to look at and what to do for their profit.
In conclusion I find it befitting to reinforce understanding your purpose. Because it is that definiteness of purpose that allows you to become who you need to be. It is purpose that gives you faith and forces you to believe in yourself.
Then with all of those together you have no choice but to have the boldness to stand for something. These are the characteristics that allowed Muhammad Ali to start as a skinny twelve-year-old. Move up to heavyweight with 61 fights. Finish strong with 56 wins and 5 losses. 37 wins by knockout. Humanitarian and activist. Father and Husband. Entertainer and role model. And in my eyes forever…The Greatest
Muhammad Ali…I Love You…Thank You…Rest in Peace