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Saturday, June 04, 2016

Muhammad Ali, The Greatest By Barack Obama


Muhammad Ali was The Greatest.  Period.  If you just asked him, he’d tell you.  He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d “handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail.”

But what made The Champ the greatest – what truly separated him from everyone else – is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing. 

Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing.  But we’re also grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him, if just for a while; for how fortunate we all are that The Greatest chose to grace our time. 

In my private study, just off the Oval Office, I keep a pair of his gloves on display, just under that iconic photograph of him – the young champ, just 22 years old, roaring like a lion over a fallen Sonny Liston.  I was too young when it was taken to understand who he was – still Cassius Clay, already an Olympic Gold Medal winner, yet to set out on a spiritual journey that would lead him to his Muslim faith, exile him at the peak of his power, and set the stage for his return to greatness with a name as familiar to the downtrodden in the slums of Southeast Asia and the villages of Africa as it was to cheering crowds in Madison Square Garden.

“I am America,” he once declared. “I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me – black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.”

That’s the Ali I came to know as I came of age – not just as skilled a poet on the mic as he was a fighter in the ring, but a man who fought for what was right.  A man who fought for us.  He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t.  His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing.  It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail.  But Ali stood his ground.  And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today.

He wasn’t perfect, of course.  For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved.  But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes – maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves.  Later, as his physical powers ebbed, he became an even more powerful force for peace and reconciliation around the world.  We saw a man who said he was so mean he’d make medicine sick reveal a soft spot, visiting children with illness and disability around the world, telling them they, too, could become the greatest.  We watched a hero light a torch, and fight his greatest fight of all on the world stage once again; a battle against the disease that ravaged his body, but couldn’t take the spark from his eyes. 

Muhammad Ali shook up the world.  And the world is better for it.  We are all better for it.  Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family, and we pray that the greatest fighter of them all finally rests in peace.

Barack Obama

President of the United States

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

A quote form Ali:

"My enemy is the white people, not Vietcongs or Chinese or Japanese," Ali told one white student who challenged his draft avoidance. "You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice. You my opposer when I want equality. You won't even stand up for me in America for my religious beliefs and you want me to go somewhere and fight but you won't even stand up for me here at home."

Ali, like Obama a vehement racist. I knew Ali, he had a big heart, but never in a private conversation did he let me forget that I was white. BY the way, I am in a interracial marriage, just on the wrong color end of it according to Ali.


Anonymous said...

I see that the Fox Valley Parks Director can run for Mayor in 5 years. By 2021, if he hasn't been ousted by his independently elected board, he'll have used his time to convince gullible Aurorans what a great Mayor he'll be. No one should shamefully use a +$170,000 job paid by taxpayers as a platform for public office, but just watch. Straight out of the Weisner play book from 15 years ago when he was 'working' for Mayor Stover. Got to love sleazy local government in Illinois. It's what makes our State so very great.

Anonymous said...

About that Park District, I wonder how long it'll be before the Director and those board cronies from City Hall start hiring incompetent City department heads. Those hacks are getting fired by the new Mayor anyway and the board members will be gone after the free elections in April. Ten months to go so get those nincompoops hired now. Keep that gravy train rolling so I can pay for more cushy retirements, right? That's the Aurora way.

Anonymous said...

About that Park District, I wonder how long it'll be before the Director and those board cronies from City Hall start hiring incompetent City department heads. Those hacks are getting fired by the new Mayor anyway and the board members will be gone after the free elections in April. Ten months to go so get those nincompoops hired now.

Well you people allow it. Bill Donnell got elected how? Mervine got elected how? Bugg got elected how? Franco got elected how? Irvin got elected how. O'Connor got elected how? Garza got elected how? Hart-Burns got elected how? The entire city council is corrupt. The most honest one of them is Lynne Johnson. Your entire township is corrupt...ultimately the votes of Aurora simply suck the establishment's pipe.

Anonymous said...

ali was a coward

Anonymous said...

I don't think he was a coward exactly, but he was a very vile bully, unpatriotic as they come and a rather vulgar human being. I actually bought his rehabilitated image until he started supporting Obama, Obama who stood agaisnt most of what Ali professed he now believed. face it, all that ever mattered to Ali was the color of your skin and what religion you were. It is no surprise Ali was a sexual predator so was Muhammad.

Anonymous said...

What a coward. He became a muslim to avoid the draft. Who knows how many of the true hero's that went into the draft and fought for our country, but didn't come home alive, would have been national sports hero's.

So he lost 3 years of a boxing career, our real hero's lost much more.

Anonymous said...

How long till Ali's Muslim buddies from Syria start cutting off Christians heads in Aurora?

Anonymous said...

The other readers of the Koran probably would have beheaded Ali for just saying he was the greatest.



Where is that Farakan fool during all this violence in Chicago and elsewhere. Probably high fiving his bow tie idiots.