Tuesday, December 2, 2008
It would have been an enriching experience if I had visited the Muhammad Ali Center by myself, but it was much more enriching visiting it with Kris, Brandon, and Leo. It invoked conversation between my group members that we probably would have never talked about if we hadn't taken the nine hour drive from Richmond to Louisville - passing through Charleston, West VA, provided a good conversation starter in how you couldn't pay us enough to live there. The experience alone allowed us to get closer as friends, not just as group members.
Our gang managed to fit time to visit museum row and tour the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. Leo's admission was essentially used to pay for his girlfriend's Louisville souvenir as we got free mini bats in conclusion of the tour.
With all the looming distractions, such as happy hour specials, we didn't lose focus of the intent for our trip. That was to learn about the man who said, "If you even dream of beating me you'd better wake up and apologize."
A witty, humorous, controversial figure that is the most globally influential person of our time. The three time heavyweight champion is not a cultural icon for his quick feet and left jab but rather for his loud mouth and peaceful mind. Every sentence he interjected was quoted - "Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change." His words were powerful - "I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me. It would be a better world."
No words could capsulate the six core values (conviction, dedication, spirituality, giving, confidence, and respect) the center demonstrates in their interactive timeline that illustrates that transformed experience you have in finding inspiration in becoming as great as you can be. That inspiration can come from the least expected places. Sure, there is shadow boxing and punching bags, but did you know Ali was a poet and artist?
Today his message is still being carried as he carries the Olympic torch. Very few people, if any, are as iconic as Muhammad Ali. Ali's daughter Laila Ali now is the face to all young women that anything is possible, or at least Adidas believes so, carrying her father's message to never hear no to new generations and audiences.
Was Ali truly the first to stand or was he the first to get back up? We remember Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., but we remember Muhammad Ali in a different light. We remember the perseverance he had to continually silence doubters while defying the odds in a exuberant manner. We remember his powerful presence as most literally looked up to him. Ali had no fear to say something wrong and he knew how to entertain while getting his message across. It is interesting that a man who fought for peace had to gain respect by using force. No longer does an African American need to use force to be heard. Ali was part of a foundation that put the process into action. Now all communities stand tall and applaud in recognition of a great fighter and mind.