I may not have been a fan of boxing, and I surely wouldn’t have thought i will write a piece about something related, well, yeah i am not, however, I am putting this down in honor of a true legend, Muhammad Ali, the man that taught me resilience.
Watching from the screen in our sitting room, i would often see a man who got knocked down repeatedly, yet he never gave up. At a very young age, i realized it was not just over, being on the ground. Before i learned from Ali, I would always think it’s best for a man knocked down to stay on the ground, but now, I realized even the ground is not enough to stop a motivated man, this was my first life’s lesson, from Ali.
In honor of him, I’ll be listing 5 things about Muhammad Ali you probably never knew about…
1. Ali Changed His Name More Than Once
According to his biographer, Davis Miller,
“The legend is known that when a young Kentucky-born Cassius Clay joined the Nation of Islam his name was immediately changed to the now iconic Muhammad Ali,” Miller says. “But few know that his first name change was to Cassius X.
“It was February 26, 1964 — the morning after he knocked out Sonny Liston. But nearly two weeks later, on March 6, he announced that religious and political leader Elijah Muhammad (who led the Nation of Islam from 1934 until his death in 1975) had given him the new name of Muhammad Ali.”
2. He Is A Sufi
“Ali announced that he is a Sufi around 2005, saying that of all of the sects of Islam, he feels the closest connection to Sufism,” says Miller, whose book “Approaching Ali” was released in late 2015. “Sufism is arguably the most peaceful sect of any major or minor religion. Sufis believe that to purposely harm any person is to harm all of humanity, to harm each of us and to damage the world.
“It is the perfect fit for Ali, who had been living in the ways that Sufis do for decades before he’d heard of the religion. “Few people have heard about the profound ways Ali’s faith has evolved over the years. He has been a world soul for many decades; he has grown from separatist to universalist.”
3. He Fought While Injured
“Ali had only six weeks to prepare for this contest,” Miller says. “In training, his boyhood friend and former heavyweight champion Jimmy Ellis badly fractured one of Ali’s ribs.
“Even with this injury, Ali did not reschedule the fight, being entirely uncertain that if he did, he would ever get the chance to fight again.”
4. Parkinson’s disease has taught him new ways to communicate
“The art of the gesture is quite important to him,” Miller says of Ali, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1984 at the age of 42. “He communicates with his hands and fingers, his facial features, his eyes.
“He surprises visitors by making a sound with his thumb and index finger that’s not unlike a cricket in your ear. He blows on the top of heads, tickles the inside of palms when he shakes hands, teasing almost everyone who visits him.
“Though he can walk, Ali is often seen sitting in a wheelchair or positioned in an easy chair. He is no longer the world’s most vocal and irrepressibly animated person.”
5. He’s an amateur magician
“Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, his hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.”
Famous for his pre-fight proto rap rhymes, Ali had some other dazzling tricks. “Until recently, throughout his years with Parkinson’s disease, Ali surprised visitors by performing prestidigitations (sleight of hand tricks),” Miller says.
“He made a red silk scarf disappear from his hand, he bit coins in half and made them whole again, and he often performed an old parlor trick — by putting his feet together and rising up on the toes of one foot while keeping his other foot flexed, he could appear to float above the ground.”