Tuesday, June 7, 2016

What Makes One "The Greatest"?

Reuters File Phote
This has been a week of championing the life of Muhammad Ali. Every channel you see on TV, a lot of feeds on Facebook, many tweets on Twitter...all talking about what a great man he was. Muhammad Ali died this past weekend at the age of 74. He suffered for more than 30 years with Parkinson's Disease.

I thought he was a terrific athlete. He was a world champion boxer. I understand he was a wonderful philanthropist. He also did his fair share with civil rights in a country which still is largely divided. 

But what Muhammad Ali was not was a great husband. Or a great Father. Or a great American. And these qualities are, in my opinion, that champions a man's life. These are what should be leaving him with a sparkling legacy.

These are my opinions. I didn't know the guy personally. 

Did you know that Muhammad was married 4 times? That hasn't been mentioned very often this past weekend as everyone talks about his "greatness". Muhammad loved women and struggled with staying faithful to them. He had children with women other than his four wives. There are a known 9 children. Some people say there are more. I wonder how involved he was in the lives of these children. I have read that he was estranged, for years, from his one biological son. It is said his 4th wife caused a strain among his children and his brother. I don't know if he was able to protest due to his Parkinson's disease. But to me, a great man, is a great husband and a great father. Muhammad did not seem to possess these qualities. Have you ever heard the quote, "The best thing a father can do for his children is love their mother."?

Muhammad converted to Islam in the early 1960's. When he was drafted into the military, during the years of the Viet Nam war,he refused to go. He was stripped of his heavyweight titles while he fought the American government to stay out of jail. He never served any jail time and won back his rights to box and paid some hefty fines. But many other young men, who didn't have the means that Ali had, died serving our great country in a war no one believed in. Why was Ali any different. Because of his religion? Because of his status as an Olympic boxer? Because he had money?  I came from a family of military people. Richard served our country during the Korean war. I had two brothers, cousins, an uncle (and probably countless others I don't know about) who served as well. My one brother trudged through the jungles of Viet Nam. I'm sure he didn't want to do that anymore than Muhammad Ali wanted to. But we came from a family who believed, if you are called, you serve.
So, to me, he was not a great American! He did not possess that quality in my books.

I think we should give accolades to Muhammad Ali for what he was. A great boxer. But he was not "The Greatest" as he liked to say during his career. Because, to me, the greatest would have also meant he was a great American. A great husband. A great father.

I imagine my opinion will not be a popular one. But it's my opinion. And I needed to voice it! RIP Muhammad Ali!!

  

26 comments:

  1. You sure did think things through and offer support for your perspective! There are folks I respect more than Ali.

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  2. I am not invested in an opinion about Muhammad Ali. The passage of time seems to have been kind to him, as far as being respected for other than being a great boxer. Apparently he is being recognized as someone who took a stand and stood up for his beliefs.
    I respect you for doing the same. You're right your view is probably not the most popular one.

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    1. I didn't figure my view would be popular. But I am a bit tired of hearing about him from sunup to sundown on TV. He was just another American athlete. Not an icon, in my opinion. He did take a stand and stood up for his beliefs. And continued to enjoy all the other privileges of living in America. A country he refused to stand up for!

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  3. It always irks me when someone becomes a "hero" because they play a sport exceedingly well. I think we have lost sight of what a hero is and should be. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. I think you are right Wendy! Just because he was a great boxer, and I think he was, he wasn't the best person, in my opinion. Like many of our sports 'heroes' aren't!

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  4. He only wanted to fight for profit not for our Country. He is/was a dirty draft dodger:(

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  5. I follow Franklin Graham (Billy's Graham son) on Facebook. He mentioned Ali's passing and has a picture of Ali with Franklin Graham's parents and mentioned how Ali's father was worried about Ali's new Muslim faith and wanted him to meet Billy Graham. I think the dad is a hero for realizing the potential cost of what that religion could do to Ali's eternal destination, which in the end is what really matters, isn't it? I agree with everything you said here too Paula.

    betty

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    1. I have always wondered if he joined especially so he could avoid being drafted someday. Possible??

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  6. Well, you knew way more about Ali than I ever did. The way of the world is that those with money and connections can get out of service if they so desire. I have heard the quote about father's before. It's a good one. In this day and age, most people will get down right mad at you if you say that mamas and daddys should always put each other first, ahead of the children. They think it is mean or selfish. They don't understand that a child is strongest, most secure when the two people who matter most to them are totally invested in one another.
    Barbara, blogging at Life & Faith in Caneyhead

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    1. I only knew all this cause I read it on the Internet! It is too bad that the rich get special privileges when it comes to the military! And I agree with you about moms and dads needing to put their marriage ahead of their kids. So many now live only for their kids! After these kids leave home (if they ever do) mom and dad don't know what to do with themselves!

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  7. Applauding! You've said this far better than I might have, Paula.
    I'm saddened that today's definition of "Greatest" is so skewed. What about Chris Kyle? ... or the Blue Angels pilot who sacrificed his life the other day to avoid crashing into a neighborhood?
    Heck, the list goes on and on. You get it ... and I treasure you for it.

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    1. Yes, I get it! I won't go into what I think of Chris Kyle. But he is much more of a hero than Muhammad ever hoped to be!! For sure!!

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  8. Hi Paula - he's certainly been eulogised ... some definitely deserved - but Friday will be interesting ... the one thing Ali did was open people's eyes to choices and he definitely changed perceptions. Wrong at times - yes, yet worthy of taking note ... but the outpouring that's been happening has been a bit OTT. Cheers Hilary

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    1. Yes, some of the accolades he deserves! About boxing!

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  9. Agree completely! I hate boxing. I hate a "sport" that is nothing more than a fist fight that results in someone getting knocked out! So in my mind boxing didn't make him "great." And you are right about all the other stuff - great means so much more than boxing.

    I have heard his Parkinson's was probably caused by brain injury because of boxing. if that is true - I have no sympathy even for his last years of life. It is the price you pay for that sport. In fact I get very turned off by people who are constantly tooting their own horn.

    I worked with a neurologist who showed up to work wearing a boxing themed tie. I was a bit stunned. So I said something. He responded that he was a ring side doctor. I guess the look on my face was clear as to my opinion. He quickly added that he hated boxing and this was his way of keeping boxers somewhat safe - he could call the fight at any time and did so frequently. He was there to protect the brain that was his profession as best he could. My opinion of him rose in seconds. This doctor could be called "great."

    I bear no ill will for Ali - he made his own choices and he paid his price in later life for them. I have no special respect for him. You are right. "Great" means something entirely different.

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    1. I don't mind boxing. I don't really understand it! My youngest son boxes. But they wear head gear. and there aren't a lot of hits to the heads. He loves it! I don't think there is a definitive way they can tell what caused his particular type of Parkinson's. I think they are guessing at that. I think it is a good thing there are doctors who support the sport and are at ringside to help. It doesn't seem any worse of a sport, to me, than football. Football has caused it's own share of injuries of all types. Including head injuries. Just saying! I don't bear any ill will to Ali either. I can't judge. But I can offer my opinion! And this was it!

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I love to hear what you might think. Leave me a comment. I guarantee though that I will delete your comment if you are just here to cause trouble. So tread lightly!