Muhammad Ali trailer

Photo: via Fisheye Films for I Am Ali documentary

Someone may have told you that Muhammad Ali died. But you shouldn’t believe those words for one second. There is no such thing as death for the man born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in the winter of 1942. The boy who embraced the sport of boxing after being a victim of a bicycle theft would eventually grow to steal the hearts of millions. There is no end to such a serendipitous beginning.

The man who was considered an underdog before fighting Sonny Liston, stood up to the biggest bully in boxing and shocked the world. He would eventually stand up to the injustices that Black Americans faced by changing his name to Muhammad Ali and joining the Nation of Islam— an organization that taught Blacks the knowledge of God, self-respect and independence. Ali once found mentorship in Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X. Who could ever put such a truth to rest?

The man who shouted “No” to being a part of a senseless war was once viewed as America’s most divisive figure. Strong, Black, independent, and willing to walk away from all that he earned to remain true to himself. Sentenced to jail, stripped of his passport, banned from boxing. Ali’s beliefs were bigger than worldly desires and possessions. Blacks caught hell in America during the 1960s, but Ali could never see himself fighting for a country that was unwilling to fight for him or his kind. There is no demise for such a brave and powerful being.

The man returned to “Rumble in the Jungle” with chants of “Ali, bomaye” from the people of Zaire. They witnessed as Ali dissected George Foreman with his “Rope-A-Dope” boxing style. He would use the same strategy to tire Joe Frazier one year later in the epic battle, “Thrilla in Manila.” There is no way to destroy those magnificent moments.

Muhammad Ali found success in boxing, but his truest achievements will always be bigger than any sport. A great athlete has the ability to show amazing skill by knocking out an opponent; gliding in the air before dunking; running a 100-yard touchdown; or hitting a game-winning grand slam home run. However, a great man has the ability to inspire you to stand up for something bigger than your personal desires; he has the ability to give you confidence when the world fails to see your worth; he has the ability to provoke change when everyone else has embraced the notion that everything must remain the same.

Ali wasn’t just a great athlete, he was a great man, a great father, and a great leader.

As a result, never allow someone to tell you that Muhammad Ali died. Through his actions, words, wisdom and ability to make us all believe, he will live forever.

A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.