When we look for inspiration, little do we realise it’s always been next to us. I was looking for a trigger to my next article which came by me through my four-year-old boy. He was humming words to the song “Unstoppable” by The Score. A couple of words go like this “SWINGING LIKE ALI”. I didn’t give the song much attention when I first heard it. Days passed. While I was surfing through the sports channels last week I came across a documentary on Muhammad Ali. I recollect seeing the same before and didn’t give it much thought before moving on. On a completely different occasion, a few days back I read a story on how Justin Langer, coach of the Australian cricket team, shared a tale on Ali and his stolen cycle to motivate the Australian team after their defeat in the third Ashes Test. The Australian squad felt the game was stolen and Langer used the same analogy to inspire his team.
First it was the song, then the documentary and now cricket. Ali is everywhere. Before I go into details on reasons why Ali is still very much relevant today, I would like to share the story of Ali and his cycle. When he was a child his cycle was stolen. Ali was upset as any child would be. To overcome the disappointment of his stolen cycle, he took up boxing. That was the fire he needed to become the greatest boxer of all time. The analogy here is that everyone faces adversity; but only champions find the strength to overcome it and move to bigger things.
Ali was and will always be “The Greatest”. However, there also have been champions in boxing and various other sports through the generations. How is it that Ali stands out and is an inspiration to millions even today? Ali was a showman and an excellent storyteller. At his pre-fight press conference, he would share with the media a story on the fight which was going to take place. He would also share the eventual outcome of the fight, which was, that he would beat the s*** out of his opponent. His power of communication was so strong that the media loved every press conference of his and always wanted more from the man.
“THE FIGHT IS WON OR LOST FAR AWAY FROM THE WITNESSES – BEHIND THE LINES, IN THE GYM AND OUT THERE ON THE ROAD, LONG BEFORE I DANCE UNDER THOSE LIGHTS.”
# MUHAMMAD ALI
Ali mastered the art of storytelling. His fight nights had a title that got the press going gaga and tickets being sold out in no time. “The Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974 was attended by 60,000 spectators and record TV audience estimated at one billion. A year later “The Thrilla in Manila”. The contest Name/Title is derived from Ali’s boasting that the fight would be “a killa and a thrilla and a chilla, when I get that ...... in Manila”. Ali was provocative; he had a way with words. Outside the boxing ring, Ali was an activist and stood for several causes which he strongly believed in. Respect and love for Ali only grew post-retirement. He was an active public figure, involved in charity and left a positive impression wherever he went.
The fairy tale truly lives on…
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