Today is not the best day. Muhammad Ali, the man who won the heavyweight title three times, is in reportedly a “grave condition”. Ali who has notably suffered from symptoms of Parkinson’s has made less public appearances throughout the years is currently 74.
I am a fan of boxing, but talking about Muhammad Ali as just a boxer is about as much of a disservice as one could do. Sure, some might consider Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano or Joe Louis the GOAT but their legacies are all different. In a time where current top pound-for-pound fighters such as Roman Gonzalez, Gennady Golovkin and Andre Ward barely register on the casual sports fans mind, boxing’s past still gets rightfully idolized.
Muhammad Ali is a different icon. This was a man who took trash talking to levels never before seen. This is a man who shocked the world. This is a man who took 3.5 years in exile because he took a stand against the Vietnam War. This is a man who is a culturally icon who was something special in the ring but fought with more than just his fists.
In a generation where we write cringeworthy thinkpieces on Cam Newton skipping out on a press conference, you have to wonder what the modern hot taker would think of Muhammad Ali. There would be pearl clutching, “think of the children!”, and horrible tweets made about the stances Ali took. Those same people will mourn him when he’s gone.
Usually, when I write a piece I just tend to wing it. In this situation, I have no idea what to say next. This is a person who is above pop culture. This is one of the most important American historical figures over the past sixty years. This is the most important sportsperson, sans perhaps Jesse Owens or Jackie Robinson, in the past century. Frankly, I got nothing but I know I can’t sit on my hands and not acknowledge something greater than myself.
He can be considered controversial. Some of his trash talk might’ve went too far, especially in regards to Joe Frazier. He pissed off a shit ton of people and did it in a way in which he openly did not give a fuck. This is not just a boxer.
This is an icon.
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