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Rebel with a cause

Rebel with a cause
Highlights

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth a mere 14 words they are, but they, in a nutshell, embody the spirit with which Muhammad Ali lived a life that stands as an inspiration for generations to come.

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth a mere 14 words they are, but they, in a nutshell, embody the spirit with which Muhammad Ali lived a life that stands as an inspiration for generations to come. In the demise of a true-blue symbol of peace, a champion of the masses has been snatched away from the universe.

All said and done, Ali was not just the ‘Greatest’ boxer of all time, but an iconic great, who was to assume the mantle of a crusader for the ill-treated African-Americans in the ’60s and ’70s. That he succeeded in salvaging their self-respect on the global firmament ought to be considered as one of the loftiest achievements of Ali, and more gigantic than his three world crowns and the Olympic Gold.

An outstanding sportsman, Ali was gifted with a rare humane mindset that saw him vent his ire at racism, war and religious intolerance that prevailed at the height of his majestic career. As the face of the civil rights movement, and easily the most recognisable face in the world, he worked alongside extraordinary statesmen like Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela and went globe-trotting to impress upon the authorities on the need to bring a semblance of equality to the ‘minorities.’ After all, he transcended faith, race and borders because in him everyone saw hope and one of their own.

A bigger indication of his overbearing aura is that his life was so captivating that many books and films revolve around the magnetic persona, a one-of-a-kind charismatic phenomenon, who was the scourge of all those who believed in an autocratic rule that victimised the have-nots. The visionary in him fought for the emancipation of the black race not only nearer home but also elsewhere in the world. His diatribe had purposeful meaning and not always the exasperated bravado of a rebel. He had guts and never hesitated to call a spade a spade. It was this very trait that saw the global ambassador for cross-cultural understanding, rubbing influential authorities on the wrong side.

A firm believer in equality for all, he paid a heavy price while refusing to join the US Army during the Vietnam War. One wonders what his record could have been had he not been prevented from fighting for close to four years at a time when he was at the peak of his prowess. Hypothetical a thought it perhaps is, but the career-graph would have been fantastically astounding. Off the ring, the legend of Ali assumed a glorious twist and earned him a respect that few of his predecessors or peers could hope for.

It is an extraordinary facet that the grandson of a slave and one who was ridiculed and subjected to racial degradation should emerge as the country’s conscience; from being reviled to being revered. Perhaps, only a champion like Ali could rise like a colossus. The voice of Mohd Ali, who passed away around 36 hours after professional boxers were allowed to participate in Olympics, will continue to reverberate for several decades to come, nay for eternity.

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