“People were always asking me what I was going to do after I retired from boxing. My response then was as it is now: During my boxing career, you did not see the real Muhammad Ali. You just saw a little boxing and a little showmanship. It was after I retired from boxing that my true work began. I had more time then to develop my spiritual being the way that I once developed my muscles and agility.
When I look at the world, I see that many people build big beautiful houses but live in broken homes. We spend more time learning how to make a living than we do learning to make a life. What I hope to share with you are the beliefs that I have come to live by. Many of the philosophies, stories, and ideals that have touched my soul and inspired my heart I learned from my study of Islam. I have shared this knowledge with my family and friends; now I offer it to the world. …
My soul has grown over the years, and some of my views have changed. As long as I’m alive, I will continue to try to understand more because the work of the heart is never done. All through my life I have been tested. My will has been tested, my courage has been tested, my strength has been tested. Now my patience and endurance are being tested. Every step of the way I believe that God has been with me. And, more than ever, I know that he is with me now. I have learned to live my life one step, one breath, and one moment at a time, but it was a long road. I set out on a journey of love, seeking truth, peace, and understanding. I am still learning.”
~ Muhammad Ali from The Soul of a Butterfly
I got this book after one of the Black members in our community graciously encouraged me to explore more Black authors and share their stories and perspectives while broadening my own perspective. (Thank you, Miata!)
Muhammad Ali was a magnetically charismatic heavyweight champion turned humanitarian. Wikipedia tells us that he was nicknamed “The Greatest” and that “he is regarded as one of the most significant sports figures of the 20th century and is often regarded as the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. In 1999, he was named Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated and the Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC.”
He wrote this book with his daughter Hana Ali in 2004. He was 62 at the time. He died at the age of 74 in 2016. It’s a fantastic autobiography in which we learn about the struggles he faced as a Black man living in the segregated South and the courage and commitment with which he strived to live a life of integrity and love.
I highly recommend it as both a great, inspiring biography of one of the most beloved (and polarizing!) figures of the 20th century AND as a means to learn more about the challenges we continue to face in creating a just society. (Get a copy here.)
The book is PACKED with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share some of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!
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