This one is so personal to me. I grew up adoring Muhammad Ali. My stepfather used to take me to the fights and to wrestling matches. I was somewhat of a Tom boy. Actually, I was a Tom boy! I loved going with him. He always took me in the back to meet the fighters and wrestlers. I just thought when you went to an event, that’s what you were supposed to do. I had no idea of my privilege at such a young age.
We lived in Maryland so I’ve met and even had dinner with Sugar Ray Leonard. I had no idea how Wayne knew all these people so personally. It was just part of my life as a child. The one person with whom I never got to meet was Muhammad Ali.
He was however the one person I always wanted to meet. Every time he took me to a fight or went without me because it was just the “grown-ups,” I always asked about Muhammad Ali. If he knew Sugar Ray and Andre the Giant, he had to know Muhammad Ali. I still think that he did, but we never had the opportunity to meet.
As we take this journey in Black History each week, I share people I know, people whose stories are so inspiring to me and people who are living history. But as we prepare for the weekend of love, I must share my love for Muhammad Ali. (I almost became a Muslim following his life and work, but I love the Lord and could not make that change!)
People know when he was born, when he died and how his life change not just Black America but American society as a whole. People know that he was mentored He is American history as all Black History is American history.
Muhammad Ali is one of the most prolific, charismatic and outspoken leaders of the 20th century. He and his friends were devoted to equality, success and family. It is what brought them together. It was one of their common denominators. It may have brought them together.
I encourage you to learn more about Muhammad Ali. I encourage you to learn about his life, his friends, and his journey. Learning more of their time, their stories and their accomplishments teaches where we’ve come but more importantly, where we plan to go.