J.D. Hall
United States
Oklahoma
flag msg tools
I remember the last time I saw Muhammed Ali when he was still physically similar to the brilliant boxer of my youth. It was summer 1984, and for weeks there had been a great deal of speculation as to who would light the Olympic flame to start the Los Angeles Olympiad.

When Ali stepped out of the shadows and took the lighted torch, the roar from the assembled crowd was stupendous. It was only when he shuffled toward the dish to light the flame was his Parkinson's apparent -- his footsteps cautious, almost uncertain, his left shake shaking with tremors. Two years into his battle with the disease that would kill him, Ali still gutted his way through a task that might have ended in humiliation and embarrassment.

And my eyes were flooded with tears.

I feel for the younger generations, like my two 20-something daughters, who never saw Ali in his prime -- the tactician of the ring, the brutal right hand, the mobility never quite seen before in the heavyweight ranks. Yes, they missed what made him famous at the beginning. But they also missed the uproar over his decision to resist the draft and his conversation to Islam, not to mention his association with well-known troublemakers Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Ali was highly controversial and widely despised in the US during the 1960s. His remarks on race were not quite inflammatory, but not the quiet white America expected from its black athletic heroes. He was loud, he was proud, he was cocky. But unlike his closest contemporary, Jim Brown (the greatest running back in NFL history IMO), Ali didn't have the edge of anger to his racial conversations, and he truly had no animosity toward white people who treated blacks fairly.

As a young white boy growing up in Texas and Oklahoma, I was fascinated by Ali the boxer, Ali the showman, and Ali the activist. You didn't see white athletes at that time doing any of that, much less a black kid from Louisville who suddenly was a Muslim and draft dodger. But as I listened to and read up on what Ali was saying, I realized I was riding the wave of a massive shift in American athletics and how white Americans would come to view blacks.

Ali eventually went on to become the most famous human being on the planet, a tremendous ambassador for the US, and a highly respected civil rights activist. Indirectly, he gave proof to the rest of the world that the notion of equality in America could actually exist -- a dirt-poor black kid from the South becoming this hugely famous, rich, and influential man, and he wasn't white, and he wasn't Christian.

But to me, he was just cool and hip and smart. I loved what he represented, I loved how he basically throw out the whole notion of what an athletic superstar should say and how they behave. Ali was no intellectual, but he was smart. He know how to market himself, and more importantly, market his ideas about race and culture and religion in a society that gave lip service to diversity in any of those three areas. And he made everybody like him while he did it.

Day-umn.

I admire and respect a lot of people -- some famous, most not. I say a prayer and hold a moment of silence when these people die. I mean, they're not family most of the time, and I wouldn't want to fake an emotion just to satisfy some narcissist need to demonstrate "feelings."

But when my wife told me Ali was dead, my eyes welled up again and I got choked up. He has been a part of my life for as long as I came remember, a positive part at that.

Seward's quote when they told him Lincoln had died would be appropriate.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Staff
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
remorseless1 wrote:
I remember the last time I saw Muhammed Ali when he was still physically similar to the brilliant boxer of my youth. It was summer 1984, and for weeks there had been a great deal of speculation as to who would light the Olympic flame to start the Los Angeles Olympiad.

When Ali stepped out of the shadows and took the lighted torch, the roar from the assembled crowd was stupendous. It was only when he shuffled toward the dish to light the flame was his Parkinson's apparent -- his footsteps cautious, almost uncertain, his left shake shaking with tremors. Two years into his battle with the disease that would kill him, Ali still gutted his way through a task that might have ended in humiliation and embarrassment.

And my eyes were flooded with tears.

I feel for the younger generations, like my two 20-something daughters, who never saw Ali in his prime -- the tactician of the ring, the brutal right hand, the mobility never quite seen before in the heavyweight ranks. Yes, they missed what made him famous at the beginning. But they also missed the uproar over his decision to resist the draft and his conversation to Islam, not to mention his association with well-known troublemakers Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Ali was highly controversial and widely despised in the US during the 1960s. His remarks on race were not quite inflammatory, but not the quiet white America expected from its black athletic heroes. He was loud, he was proud, he was cocky. But unlike his closest contemporary, Jim Brown (the greatest running back in NFL history IMO), Ali didn't have the edge of anger to his racial conversations, and he truly had no animosity toward white people who treated blacks fairly.

As a young white boy growing up in Texas and Oklahoma, I was fascinated by Ali the boxer, Ali the showman, and Ali the activist. You didn't see white athletes at that time doing any of that, much less a black kid from Louisville who suddenly was a Muslim and draft dodger. But as I listened to and read up on what Ali was saying, I realized I was riding the wave of a massive shift in American athletics and how white Americans would come to view blacks.

Ali eventually went on to become the most famous human being on the planet, a tremendous ambassador for the US, and a highly respected civil rights activist. Indirectly, he gave proof to the rest of the world that the notion of equality in America could actually exist -- a dirt-poor black kid from the South becoming this hugely famous, rich, and influential man, and he wasn't white, and he wasn't Christian.

But to me, he was just cool and hip and smart. I loved what he represented, I loved how he basically throw out the whole notion of what an athletic superstar should say and how they behave. Ali was no intellectual, but he was smart. He know how to market himself, and more importantly, market his ideas about race and culture and religion in a society that gave lip service to diversity in any of those three areas. And he made everybody like him while he did it.

Day-umn.

I admire and respect a lot of people -- some famous, most not. I say a prayer and hold a moment of silence when these people die. I mean, they're not family most of the time, and I wouldn't want to fake an emotion just to satisfy some narcissist need to demonstrate "feelings."

But when my wife told me Ali was dead, my eyes welled up again and I got choked up. He has been a part of my life for as long as I came remember, a positive part at that.

Seward's quote when they told him Lincoln had died would be appropriate.

"Ah,Fuck him!" Ajax
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J.D. Hall
United States
Oklahoma
flag msg tools
Diabolik771 wrote:
"Ah,Fuck him!" Ajax


laughlaughlaugh
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.