Muhammad Ali Is Still The Greatest

By Wesley Chism Jr., BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: February 20, 2009

SEATTLE (BASN) — I heard comedian Dave Chappelle say this in an interview about the influence that Richard Pryor had on him and many other African American Comedians.

“When Richard came onto the scene, it was like that growth chart of the evolution of man, when he arrived on the scene we could finally stand up straight.”

I think that it’s safe to echo those same remarks about Muhammad Ali when it comes to Boxing. There wasn’t anything like him before and hasn’t been anything close to him since.

Muhammad Ali had a successful amateur career and after capturing gold in the 1960 Olympics, the world waited with great anticipation to see him turn professional.

He gave us some of the greatest fights in boxing history such as The Thrilla in Manila, The Rumble in the Jungle or any of his fights against Smokin’ Joe Frazier.

His flawless foot work, speed, and quickness left contenders floored and spectators on their feet. It also kept him on top of the charts for many years.

Some of the most memorable moments of my childhood were spent with my father watching a title fight on ABC’s Wide World of Sports and Ali always but on a show.

Muhammad was a man with great confidence, strong convictions that said what he meant and meant what he said and was willing to suffer the consequences of his actions.

In 1966 when Ali refused to serve in the United States Army and considered himself a conscientious objector because the war went against the teachings of the Holy Qur’an.

At the time the United States was fighting in the Vietnam War and would except anyone with a pulse, especially people of color. Ali is famous for saying, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong, they never called me nigger.”

Ali was serious about Islam and its teachings. He wasn’t trying to dodge a war as many reporters at that time would claim. As a matter of fact, when he had tried to apply a few years earlier he was declined because his test scores were a little low.

On April 28, 1967 Ali again refused to serve in the United States Army and before the sun went down that day the New York State Athletic Commission suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his boxing title.

Those years that were taken from him were said to have been when Ali was in his prime. Still, they couldn’t shut the mouth of this Lion! He continued to speak out against the injustice of this war and the racial discrimination that our country was under because it is what he believed.

Muhammad Ali became the voice of a people that spread across the world. It wasn’t until then that other athletes began to speak up and become more vocal about particulars that were happening in our country at this time.

A while back, I had the chance to see Muhammad Ali in person for the first time and many years. I didn’t want to disturb him from his guest but I didn’t know if I would ever get the chance again.

So I approached him and said, “Thank you Sir for all that you’ve done for us, I love you.” That’s just about all that I could get say before I had burst into tears.

When they showed his face up on the screen at the US Airways Center in Phoenix during the NBA All-Star game a few years ago, the crowd went wild!

Muhammad Ali is and will always be, The Greatest Boxer of All Time.