Ali — Transcendent. Timeless.

By Marc Livitz on June 7, 2016
Ali — Transcendent. Timeless.
Social media has made professors of us all and instant experts. (Marty Lederhandler/AP)

Why would anyone would choose to defend a country’s interests when their own interests as well as basic human rights were but an afterthought?

“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances and one man in his time plays many parts…”—William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

The 1960s was a time of great social upheaval, profound movements for equality and justice as well as voices speaking loudly towards the heavens on behalf of the voiceless and otherwise disenfranchised. Very few individuals planted the most timeless of proverbial cornerstones on the period as the recently departed late, great Muhammad Ali.

This article will be as brief as possible in an effort to simply shine a light and give thanks to a man who gave so much to the sport of boxing and managed to give even more to the world. Whether or not you or anyone else considers Ali to be the greatest of all time is neither subject to examination of his professional record (56-5, 37 KOs) nor talk around the water cooler or fireplace. Sadly, social media has made professors of us all and instant experts in a time where other fighters of this era pander to the camera and have their every move magnified to the point of sheer buffoonery.

For now, allow us to place Muhammad Ali where he rightly belongs, as a cornerstone of the sweet science. Through no fault of our collective own, those of us in our early 40s (this writer included) have “The Louisville Lip” down as a great fighter, first through word of mouth by way of our elders and secondly through the magic of classic fight films as well as publications. In short, those among us who may have recently received the black balloons for our milestone birthday have Ali in a unique class, that of which is nostalgia. The “50 and older” crowd may have seen (or heard) the greatest moments of the greatest’s career.

Sadly, the slow and dogged decline of Ali’s health, appearance and motor skills hit many of us squarely in the gut almost 20 years ago. As the cauldron was lit by the shaking hands of the former heavyweight champion in the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, this writer’s own mother cried uncontrollably. It was around this time that the nostalgic tag truly reared its head. It’s much like the kids of the 1980s telling today’s current “Generation Z” how the Chicago Bulls of 1996 would top the current Golden State Warriors side or that LeBron couldn’t carry MJ’s toothbrush.

Today, we’re waiting to see whether or not the latest version of the self proclaimed “G.O.A.T.” will in fact stay retired or try to convince the public to watch him face a fighter from a completely different discipline. If we were to jump back almost fifty years into the past, we’d see a man who refused to be drafted to serve in a war because of his religious beliefs. Our parents may have tagged the man as a draft dodger, while today it’s perhaps simple for someone to make a knee-jerk reaction and ask just why anyone would choose to defend a country’s interests when their own interests as well as basic human rights were but an afterthought.

Maybe he was really onto something because the war itself was unnecessary. Such a view on the Vietnam War may not sit as well with some when suggested by someone who wasn’t quite a year old when Saigon officially fell. Muhammad Ali transcends time and he’ll be missed, most likely forever. He’s much the standard by which so many fighters are judged and more importantly, the epitome of standing up for what’s right, even if it means doing so at a high cost. He shouldn’t be remembered for fighting beyond a time he should have retired. For some, the earliest memories we have of Ali was seeing him on TV commercials, such as ones for “D-Con”, when he promised to kill the roaches in our houses.

Rest in peace, Muhammad Ali. You did it your way. Unapologetic yet still kind and compassionate. We were with you throughout these last few, very difficult years. We knew you could take in what was around you and feel the love and support of those of us in your presence. We cried because you couldn’t show it to us in the same way you could in years’ past, but we knew you loved us right back. You’re not nostalgia. You transcend time itself. Thank you.

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  1. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:23am, 06/07/2016

    Ali’s family set to fight over his estimated $50,000,000 estate which could have been at least ten times greater if the Nation of Islam hadn’t used him as their poster boy/cash cow. That along with piss poor financial advice….his name which was as recognizable around the world as Pepsi or Coke wasn’t trademarked until he was 65!

  2. Eric 08:07am, 06/07/2016

    Funny how two of the most decorated American soldiers in U.S. history were what is often referred to by “our” elites and entertainment media as “poor white trash.” Alvin York of WWI, and Audie Murphy during WWII. Their exploits were of heroic proportions, poor guys were just a bit misguided in their patriotism. Still, very brave and honorable men. And Audie Murphy certainly didn’t look like some muscle bound Hollywood version of a war hero. The guy was all of 5’6”-5’7” and slight of build.

  3. Eric 07:06am, 06/07/2016

    I thought America had reached the bottom of the barrell with the Millenials, but this Generation Z crowd are for the most part, pathetic. However, one thing good about a growing minority of the youngsters, is there ability to question what they are told or have been taught to believe in. Having served in the military, I was always baffled at how a great deal of “lifers” or the most dedicated soldiers, sailors, and/or airmen were Whites from the Deep South, and yet they are probably more discriminated against than any demographic in America. Speaking of fighters facing “another fighter from another discipline,” Ali studied Shotokan karate while living in New Jersey. Fighters who fought Ali also commented on how deceptively strong he was in the clinches. White males and females are fighting in these Middle East wars for people who could care less about them and in fact, promote their genocide through not only the wars in which they fight, but through massive immigration from third world countries into the West.

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