Muhammad Ali: Perseverance through Life

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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Muhammad “The Greatest” Ali faced many trials during his life. While he was one of the most famous athletes of all time, he encountered a variety of struggles. Not only was he known for his abilities athletically, but his brave stance for human rights as well. Muhammad Ali was a strong, determined man who fought through all of his difficulties. He spoke out against racism, stood up for his religious beliefs, and fought through his Parkinson’s disease.

Ali grew up right as the Civil Rights movement was beginning.

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He was a very strong willed activist, and he spoke out against racism. With Ali being a boxer, that made quite a statement. The first boxers were slaves, who were forced to box to the death by their masters (Chengu). He also created friendships with Civil Rights Activists Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X. “The champ was feeling pretty down about the way blacks were being treated at the time.” (Poole). He even changed his birth name, Cassius Clay, to Muhammad Ali. “Cassius Clay is a name that white people gave to my slave master. Now that I’m free, that I don’t belong to anyone, that I’m not a slave anymore, I gave back their white name, and I chose a beautiful African one.” (Chengu).

Ali also took pride and stood up for his religious beliefs. He was very proud to be Muslim and did not care who saw him (Osman). According to Poole, “Joining the nation of Islam gave him a sense of pride and inclusion.”. He even got convicted of draft evasion and was sent to prison after refusing to fight due to his religious beliefs (“Muhammad Ali”). While he was very inclined to his religious views, but his family was not so supportive. His father even said the Islam group was “brainwashing” him. Ali claims that the people of Islam are sweet, pray five times a day, and only want to live in peace (Poole).

Towards the end of Ali’s life, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Before he was diagnosed, many thought he was facing mental problems or it was a result of substance abuse. It was then diagnosed as Parkinson’s in 1984 (Sawer). Through this struggle, Ali remained doing the things he loved. He even fought through his symptoms to light the torch at the 1996 Olympics (Volpe). The crowd could see his arms shaking tremendously and his physical struggles. While he admitted his side effects made him hesitant to make public appearances, he overcame his disability (Sawer). The Parkinson’s severely affected Ali’s motor skills and his speech, but he still was continued his record of goodwill and passion (“Muhammad Ali”).

While Muhammad Ali faced many difficulties throughout his life, he maintained his determined and positive attitude. He went to national Islamic conventions, was a very active part of his community, and supported multiple fundraisers for schools and mosques (Poole). Muhammad Ali spoke out against racism, stood up for his religious beliefs, and fought through his long battle of Parkinson’s disease. He was an extraordinary example of perseverance throughout life.

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Muhammad Ali: Perseverance Through Life. (2021, May 29). Retrieved from