Today is the 10th day of June, 2016, and the time is 6 pm Spanish time, and High Noon in Louisville, Kentucky in America. Today is the day when The Greatest is being gently and lovingly laid to rest.
I offer the following as my way of saying, Goodbye Champ!
Mohammed Ali has, as he said himself, lived a life of ten men and is larger than life. I must admit that I am not a fan of boxing but even I have to recognise that he was the best at what he did. He was great in the ring, but he was also great in everyday life.
The greatest thing that he did, in my opinion was done quietly in a conversation with Michael Parkinson, the well respected British talk show host. The interview lasted one hour and this selected excerpt formed part of it.
Michael Parkinson (MP)- When is your first recollection, as a child, of being a second class citizen?
MA: "Second class? Oh no, sixteenth class. They used to always say I was a second class citizen. I would say to my mother: Momma?
How come the Chinese can go where I can't go in America? Englishmen can come and set up a business in white America and do things I can't do. The Puerto Ricans, Hawaiians, just about everybody can do more than black people and are respected.
Oh man, if we were second-class citizens we'd be driving old Cadillacs and living good.
I always asked my mother, how come is everything white? Why is Jesus white with blond hair and blue eyes? Why is the Lord's supper all white men? Why is Santa Claus and Superman white? Why are the angels white; and the Pope white, and Mary. When we die are we going to Heaven?"
She said, of course were going to Heaven.
"Well, what happened to all the black angels?"
The took the pictures:
" I know, they were in the kitchen making the milk and honey."
With that he outlined the crux of the problem of the black tribe. There was nothing wrong with the creation of those symbols for the white tribe, but we black children grew up with nothing of our own to look up to so that we would feel good about ourselves.
So Mohammed Ali followed that up by giving the black tribe a hero that we could believe in. A real one, not one that was fake such as Santa Claus and Superman. He managed to conduct his life throughout without embarrassing his believers.
When he declared himself a conscientious objector to the war in Vietnam we all took a deep breath. However, we must remember that this was America at a time when the struggle for black civil rights was in full swing. Had he gone to Vietnam and been captured, his captors should have slapped him for being there to kill them when back home he did not even have the most basic of human rights.
In fact, there were apparently cases of black men in uniform being killed on the streets of America simply for wearing the uniform of the armed forces. Was he right? Absolutely! On this day there will be many who denounced him at the time for his stand, but who now see clearly what a giant the man was.
Unfortunately, there was only one Mohammed Ali. That was so that he would stand tall above all others as one to be emulated but probably never to be equalled.
I say, on this day, to you personally Mohammed Ali, I thank you so much for what you gave us; and especially for what it personally cost you. You have lived a life that was a glowing example that will never be forgotten. You are a positive influence for my son and my great grand daughters.
You once stood before an audience, in the grip of Parkinson's disease; shaking and with trembling voice you announced that you would come back. Your audience politely laughed, but the good news is that you will indeed be back through reincarnation in the body of some very lucky new born.
You were too good for only one round. I'm looking forward to Round Two!
Good bye for now, my friend!
Copyright (c) 2016