Ali’s Lesson

As an adolescent in the late fifties and early sixties, I subscribed to Sports Illustrated. This was during the rise of Cassius Clay who later changed his name to Mohammad Ali. Sports Illustrated was a young magazine at the time and gave a far more balanced view to this young fighter than many of its competitors. I found a natural affinity for this brash black man and recognized the humour and deliberate self promotion in his antics.
I listened to the first Liston fight on radio since we lived in a small town in Saskatchewan and did not have access to the fight by any other venue. I was clearly a Clay fan and was elated as against all odds and against all prognostications, he won the first round and more than held his own over the first four rounds of the title fight. An upset was brewing as Clay was younger and faster and the champion was tiring. Then came the fifth round when Clay was blinded by a foreign substance that could only have come from the gloves of Liston. There was near pandemonium in the arena and shock in the voices of the announcers as Clay somehow held the champion off using straight arms and evasion screaming all the time that he could not see. By the end of the round his eyes were clearing and Liston was tired from all the swinging and missing he had done and Clay landed a few of his own. The sixth was all Clay and I was saying to myself, ‘He’s going to do it; he is going to pull off this big upset and be heavy weight champion.’ Liston never answered the bell for the seventh round, he just sat on his stool and Clay was the new champ.
Shortly thereafter, Clay announced he had converted to Islam and changed his name to Mohammad Ali. I let my Sports Illustrated subscription lapse but continued as an avid Ali fan as he clearly outdistanced the field and had no peer by the time I entered university in the fall of sixty six. The next spring, he refused induction into the US Army. Wow! That takes guts I thought. That is standing up for what you believe and showing the world that you cannot be owned or forced to do things you do not want to do. It was also clear to me that Ali had much to lose and this was a very bad career move. The white establishment now had him in their sights and I thought as did many others that he would never fight again.
I just finished a book called King of the World written by David Remnick and it covers this epoch of time and the events and characters who played starring roles. There was not much new information for me as I lived this time and took an interest in these events but it was a reliving and an examination of the underlying forces at work. Racism in the fifties and early sixties in southern US and how Ali did not support Martin Luther King and the anti segregation movement.
I am white and a Canadian but somehow I felt great affinity for Ali and for his antiwar stance. To me, he did more for the shared cause of equality and antiracism than anyone else save Martin Luther King himself. When King was assassinated in 1968, Ali was left standing alone as the lone defiant black man with power and influence. He lacked King’s vision and King’s sense of the power of nonviolence, but he remained a symbol of defiance to the white establishment and of the ability of black people to run their own affairs.
Ali showed us it could be done. Ali showed us that by standing up for what we believe and by refusing to accept the rules and the dictates of the ruling elite, we could shift things. His lessons remain valid to this day and are part of humanity’s freedom and part of our ongoing efforts to take back our power from the ruling elite. Ali showed us the way. Ali showed us how to stand in our power.
Freedom for humanity…


About freedom4humanity

Serving Humanity with information about the Divine process of Ascension.
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