Photo Credits: The Stanley Weston Archive/Getty Images
Ali! … Ali!... Ali!...
I call out. I call out to you and chant your name and yet you are nowhere to be found.
You, the ‘Louisville Lip’ are silent.
Cassius Marcellus Clay.
"I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”
Ali, we need you. Now more than ever! You fought for titles in the ring. And freedom in the streets.
On January 17th 1942, 75 short years ago, you were born. Named for a Republican Abolitionist.
How times have changed.
Guess it’s still really the same fight!
They killed Emmet in ’55, you won gold in Rome in ’60. Still couldn’t take a sip of water from a white hand.
"I am the astronaut of boxing. Joe Louis and Dempsey were just jet pilots. I'm in a world of my own."
And that night in Miami you shook up that world, and it was yours!
And Cassius Clay became Ali. Muhammed Ali.
You wouldn’t let the Jim Crow south you grew up in, your parents, your opponents, your friends or your enemies define you.
Young Black Man, you defined yourself!
"I know where I'm going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want."
You taught us the tough lessons in those days. Stand for something, or fall for anything.
You taught us there was only one side to be on when it came to Liberty and Justice for all!
You taught us about that crime called Vietnam. We were guilty, but you were held responsible?
You ain’t going over there!
"I got nothing against no Viet Cong. No Vietnamese ever called me a nigger."
Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty… You were free in ’71!
They already killed Bobby and Malcolm and Martin too.
You were not done.
"When you are as great as I am, it is hard to be humble."
Norton three times.
"Champions aren't made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them -- a desire, a dream, a vision."
Frazier three times. You got up from that hook!
"I never thought of losing, but now that it' s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That's my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life."
And Foreman too…we thought he’d be arrested for murder!
"The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights."
Dance, Dance and Rumble Young Man Rumble.
So, where are you Mr. Ali?
Have we lost our minds? We need a Champion!
Long before you fell silent for good you lost your voice.
Long before the end your body slowly imprisoned you…
But you were so fast! How fast were you Champ?
"I'm so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark."
At least you were with us. A reminder of the best of us.
Where are you Mr. Ali?
Most of the fighters, the real ones are gone.
You fought for medals, you fought for titles and glory.
You fought for us.
We miss you. I miss you.
So now it’s our fight. Now we will shake up the world!
“You don't want no pie in the sky when you die. You want something here on the ground while you're still around."
Mr. Ali. You’re gone now and you left a void that feels like it swallowed up half of history.
You told the truth and now we can’t even agree on what the truth is.
I remember what you taught me.
And if I draw breath everyone will remember too.
Goodbye Champ. Goodbye Mr. Ali.
“We have one life; it soon will be past; what we do for God is all that will last."