He fought in an era when the best fought the best, at their best; not like today, when champions fight shadows of the past. Who are the champions today, anyway? More importantly, do they matter anymore? Ali mattered, because he was David vs a string of Goliaths. Whether it was Sonny Liston, religion, race, the press, Uncle Sam, an enforced three-year lay-off during his prime years, or George Foreman, he won when it mattered. He wasnât just a sportsmanâs sportsman; he was everyoneâs sportsman and undisputed world champion. He advanced, to greater and lesser extents, the social, political and sporting dials, not just in his time and space, but spanning eras and continents. Thatâs what greatness is about. He was not without fault. âThe Louisville Lipâ once said â¦ a man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20, has wasted 30 years of his life. Who knows what prompted this reflection, but itâs as close as you will get to an admission of imperfection from The Greatest.
Ali joins the pantheon of greats from other endeavours, immortalized in his iconic images, exhilarating performances and memorable quotes. Rest in peace.
The Butterflies and the Bees