BY ADEDIWURA OKELEYE
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., Muhammad Ali was an American professional boxer and considered the greatest heavyweight in the history of the sport. With 61 fights and 56 wins, he was definitely a force to reckon with. However he didn’t just make his impact in the world of boxing, he made his impact in the American movie industry too. A number of films have been made about the legend, some of them award-winning including: Ali the Fighter (1971), The Greatest (1977), When We Were Kings (1996), Ali: An American Hero (2000), Ali (2001), Facing Ali (2009), The Trials Of Muhammad Ali (2013), I Am Ali (2015).
When We Were Kings focused primarily on 32 year old Ali’s boxing match with 24 year old George Foreman, including everything that led up to the fight, like Ali’s preparation and strategy. The fight helped him to reclaim the title he was stripped off in 1967 for refusing to enlist in the US military. Ali cited religious reasons for his refusal then. It took the producer Leon Gast a about 20 years to bring the movie to the screens as a result of financial and legal difficulties.
In the late 1970s, he voiced his own Saturday morning cartoon, I Am the Greatest!: The Adventures of Muhammad Ali. He even fought Superman in one of the episodes. He was also a motivator for the younger generation and has made some pretty inspiring statements.
Here are some of his popular quotes.
When he was asked about his fighting style, he said,
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.”
“I’m gonna put that ugly bear on the floor, and after the fight I’m gonna build myself a pretty home and use him as a bear-skin rug,” he said before fighting Sonny Liston in 1964
“I shook up the world, I’m the king of the world. You must listen to me. I am the greatest! I can’t be beat!” he said on becoming world champion after beating Liston
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
On why he refused to join the US army in 1967, he said:
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”
“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognise. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”
“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
“You been hearing about how bad I am since you were a little kid with mess in your pants! Tonight, I’m gonna whip you till you cry like a baby,” he said about fighting George Foreman.
“It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.”
While he was fighting Joe Frazier, he said to his corner, “This is the closest I’ve ever been to dying.”
“The man with no imagination has no wings.”
He told David Remnick during an interview in 1998, “Do good deeds. Visit hospitals. Judgment Day coming. Wake up and it’s Judgment Day.”
People all around the world have been paying tribute to the great man since the news of his death broke yesterday. His life and times will definitely be remembered in years to come.
Rest In Peace Muhammad Ali.