His retired from the ring in 1981 when he was 39 years old. He was a major sports figure and for all who remember his career in the 60s and 70s, his death will signal the end of an amazing personality. However, his death affects many more than those who grew up watching him fight. The hashtag #MuhammadAli has been shared over 1,116,000 times since his death last Friday. It could be argued that he was not only the greatest boxer of his time, but also among the most significant athletes of all time. Muhammad Ali is a famous figure who stood out both inside and outside of the ring.
So how does a boxer become one of the most influential figures of the 20th century?
He Knew What He Stood For.
Muhammad Ali won 56 out of the 61 fights he participated in, inspiring young boxers everywhere, but he was also ap “fighter” of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, spreading awareness for equality for all. While most athletes and figures allow managers or agents to speak on their behalf, Muhammad welcomed the spotlight, using it to express what he stood for and tell his story. His controversial refusal to be drafted supported his authenticity when it came to what he stands for.
He Knew His Distinct Advantage
Muhammad had a unique way of boxing, which can be summarized from his catchphrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”. While he might not have had the most powerful punch, he relied on his hand speed, quick movements and reflexes to defeat the competition. He knew what his distinct advantages were and used them in order to win multiple titles and create a 91.8 winning percentage.
In 1999, Time Magazine named Muhammad one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century. Not only was he the subject of multiple movies, books and other creative projects, he received two medals of honors from two different presidents and was crowned Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated, which is renaming their legacy award after the famous boxer. He was more than just an athlete, he was a figure who stood by what he believed in and changed history.
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” – Muhammad Ali
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