The humblest who conquered the world
Muhammad Ali's life holds many lessons for the weaker and downtrodden section. He belonged to a community which was oppressed and suppressed merely because of the colour of its skin. He also faced the same kind of social and political discrimination in his boyhood days and it created a sense of revolt in his mind. The theft of his bicycle only ignited this ember of revolt in him. He decided to be a boxer and avenge all his humiliation and deprivation both as an individual and as a community. And the rest is history.
The history holds the lesson for the oppressed that the worst of circumstances have the greatest opportunity for the individual and the community. In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens also puts it beautifully: "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times". That is, only the worst of time is the best time for a revolution to take place. A revolution takes place only when people are pushed to the wall and there is no way out. Muhammad Ali also became a 'revenge personality' in the psychological jargon. From a meek and submissive lad, he grew to be an aggressive professional pugilist who beat up and humiliated the 'whites' who subjected the black community to endless oppression. His emotional outpourings against his opponents inside the ring reflect his inner anger and fire. This anger and fire made him the greatest professional boxer of the world, despite all the racial and political machinations at work to sideline him and to break his morale. He was banned for not taking part in the US war against Vietnam. But his fighting spirit did not die. He went on to become three time world champion. Today, the American society proudly asserts that Muhammad Ali was an American and the whole of the black community across religious lines takes pride in the fact that he belonged to them. His cosmopolitan image overshadowed his religious leaning thanks to his universal approach to humanity.
Though he is known by the sobriquet 'the greatest', he was the humblest person on earth. And this humility towards his fellow human beings made him the darling of the masses. Muhammad Ali will live in the hearts of masses with the message of peace and love and relentless struggle against all odds.