We all know that Muhammad Ali will go down as the greatest fighter to ever put on a pair of gloves, but he will be remembered for so much more than just his lightning-fast hands and infamous Ali shuffle. Ali transcended sports, and he did it on his own terms. He stood up for what he believed in regardless of consequence, and he did it in a time when men, especially African-American men, dared not challenge authority.
Ali was a three-time world champion, and the best smack-talker to ever pick up a microphone. His opponents were often defeated before they ever stepped in the ring, as Ali had been talking them back into their corner in the weeks leading up to the fight.
Nowadays, every athlete wants to be a celebrity and vice-versa, but Ali truly was both, and boy did he ever know it. I’ll never forget listening to clips of Ali and the late Howard Cosell yucking it up before a fight. Cosell knew what buttons to push and helped to bring us some of the greatest quotes and one-liners ever produced. I’d like to think that the two of them are up in the clouds right now enjoying one another’s company once again.
So RIP to the Muhammad Ali, the greatest of all-time. You turned sport into spectacle. You “shocked the world”. “Rumble young man, rumble.”