Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Champ

"I hated every minute of training, but I said 'Don't quit. Suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion."

Noting the passing of Muhammad Ali.

Before there was a "most interesting man in the world" there was a man who was most recognizable. Muhammad Ali was more than a boxer, personality, activist. Of all of the human beings of his era, he was the one man who could go to places renowned or remote, populated by moderns or sustained by tribes and be instantly the center of attention.

He was an athlete who straddled two Americas - one where race prejudice was practiced publicly, legally and  institutionally, and that he helped build. Where, together, the vestiges of discrimination are slowly, inevitably, rendered a thing of the past.

He was at the top of his game, a glib, unapologetic master of the ring, when he appeared on an afternoon talk show. He told the story of driving cross country, stopping for gas and to use the restroom. He was refused the door key. "I got back in my Cadillac and left."

Some years later, at a gas station outside of Charlotte, I held the door open for a young African-American man of about twenty-five. He hesitated, staring, as though a prank was about to unfold. Apparently unaware of the local customs, I waited until he walked through.

There is so much more to do. The Sweet Sport is a cruel master. It robbed us - first of Ali's glibness and now of the man himself - at a time when brash but candid could sure come in handy. He was a man who refused to be anything but genuine.

He was, and may always be, the most recognizable man of my generation.
I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'
Read more at:

No comments:

Post a Comment