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Muhammed Ali – The World May Have Run Out Of Greatness

Muhammed Ali

Sometime ago – Muhammed Ali died.

See Also: Business lessons from Muhammed Ali and his fight against Parkinson.

As far as I am concerned, it’s time he went to rest. Not to be insensitive, but it hurt watching him try to do stuff he would do a few years ago without effort. He lit the Olympic torch in 1996, and his daughter famously commented: “I kept praying that he wouldn’t burn the house down.”

Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don't Have An Idea
Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don’t Have An Idea

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How about the time he met Nelson Mandela and they were play fighting?

I never met the man in person, watching him go through that was hard enough. I mean, this is the man who famously answered when asked to describe his style: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

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Muhammed Ali. Greatest of all time.

I started thinking about him again today when I remembered Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Barry White, Martin Luther King Jr., Mariam Makeba, Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi; people who stood for something, something bigger than themselves, and were never afraid to fight for their beliefs. Muhammed Ali refused to go to war and was sentenced to five years in prison as a draft dodger. He didn’t do the time, but he was vocal – very vocal – about his refusal as he was throughout his career.

We all know who Martin Luther King was.

Ray Charles cancelled a performance in his hometown Georgia because he insisted blacks should also be allowed sit in the ballroom of the hall he was scheduled to perform in and not just on the balcony and the promoter refused. He was fined some money. Then, the following year, he was allowed to perform with everyone sitting wherever they liked. And Nelson Mandela…what can I say?

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My point is this: what are the ‘great’ people of this generation going to be remembered for?

What musician/song who came to worldwide fame within the last ten years will still remain relevant in the next ten years?

Maybe it’s unfair to compare. The issues Nelson Mandela and Muhammed Ali and Martin Luther King Jr. and so on fought against are not the same, are they?

Has anything really changed?

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Consider the news that made rounds sometime ago. Some white boy raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster sometime in 2015 and was finally found guilty in March 2016. He was sentenced in early June 2016, and guess how many years he got? Six months.

Six months! Possibly three months, if he gets out early on good behaviour.

Compare that with the case of Kalief Browder who was sent to prison at the age of sixteen because he was accused of stealing a backpack. Get this: he was never tried. His case never went to trial and he spent three years of his life in prison, two of which was spent in solitary confinement. He was constantly beaten by inmates and guards for no apparent reason.

Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days
Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days

He finally gets out and tries to adjust to life on the outside. After three years of worsening paranoia and mental health, he kills himself.

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Three years without trial. And you want to say there’s no racism?

But what are our ‘greats’ fighting for today? Celebrities hardly stand for anything anymore – and don’t let me even start on our local celebrities. It’s one beef after another, one scandal after another, one baby mama drama after another. It’s not my job to judge or criticise; everyone has their lives to live, but somebody fought for all of us to be where we are today.

There was a time being black was a crime. That still hasn’t changed much, but what has changed is that black people now have platforms and opportunities they didn’t have some hundred years ago. A black man lived in the White House and ruled the most powerful nation in the world in my lifetime. Do you know how unimaginable that was at some point?

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What are we as individuals fighting for? What do we want for this world? What do you want to be remembered for – all the money you made or didn’t make or how you fought for people who couldn’t fight for themselves? Whose lives are you touching? Can one person say of you: “If not for him/her, I would have died/given up?”

Will you be great? It’s not by how much money you make. How rich was Mandela? Luther King? As rich as Michael was, it’s not his wealth we remember when we think of him today? How about Mama Africa – the greatest African musician? You think anybody will care how much money you made except for those immediately around you?

Think again.

I charge you this week to take time off and decide to stand for something. It may seem small but with time and practice, you build up confidence and character to stand for bigger issues.

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