17 January 2014
“Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare.”
On this day in 1942, one of the world’s greatest living legends was born. Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr, better known to us all as Muhammad Ali, arguably the greatest heavyweight in boxing history. Today he turns 72, and whilst he is now suffering from Parkinson’s, Ali continues to fight his corner, protecting and supporting others through charitable work and philanthropy.
You could argue that people like Muhammad Ali possess something special that others were somehow born without, but I think this would be overlooking one important fact. Ali wasn’t born with something that guaranteed his success. He worked for it tirelessly, with his eyes always on the prize.
Ali’s first coach, Joe Martin, put it this way: “He was a kid willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve something worthwhile in sports. It was almost impossible to discourage him.” This tenacity and determination can teach us all something about achieving our goals, no matter what they are. If you want something, fight for it. Give it all you’ve got.
The other thing that makes Ali great, aside from his drive and mental grit, is his commitment to standing by his personal values – a commitment that actually ended up setting back his boxing career when he refused to fight in Vietnam during the war, having been drafted. This is a man who stood up for his beliefs and, like his coach put it, was prepared to make the sacrifices necessary, although in this instance, for the good of others, not himself.
Happy birthday Muhammad Ali. Long may you continue to inspire us all.