Lessons Learned From The Life Of Muhammad Ali

Source: Ali.com
Source: Ali.com
Muhammad Ali Centre, Louisville, KY
Muhammad Ali Centre, Louisville, KY

Champ for All Times

About a week ago I was reintroduce to Muhammad Ali's life during a visit to his hometown, Louisville, Kentucky where we visited the Muhammad Ali Centre. This museum is dedicated to the life and work of the world greatest boxer. I was both inspired and motivated to re-evaluate my life. I also hope that this visit had a positive impact on my six year old son.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on January 17, 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky. He was named after his father who was named after a 19th century abolitionist. He changed his name to Muhammad Ali in 1964 after joining the Nation of Islam and in 1975 converted to Sunni Islam. He won his first fight in Louisville in 1960 as well as the Light Heavyweight gold medal in the Summer Olympics in Rome that year. From 1960-63, his boxing record was 19-0 with 15 knockouts.(Biography Online)

The Dream

At twelve years old, Cassius dedicated himself to boxing after receiving advice from a police officer. He was confident in his ability and had a tireless work ethics to go along with his high selfworth. By the time he was 18 years old, he had over 100 bouts. He was serious about his dream of being the heavy weight champion of the world. His fighting style was described as "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" with this strategy he danced his way to victory over his opponents.

Lesson learnt: Believe in yourself because if you do not, then no one else will. Ali believed that he was the BEST and in fact he proved that, thus achieving his DREAM.

Think Outside The Box

Cassius was known as The Lousiville Lip because of his constant banter. He addressed the media personally in a time when managers spoke on behalf of boxers. Ali joined the Nation of Islam at a time when US was in the height of Civil Rights battle. He was a controversial figure because of his alignment to Maclom X and the nation of Islam. This did not faze him because he was confident enough to know what suites him and had the self esteem to follow through. This is the hallmark of a leader.

Lesson learnt: One must follow one's vision, even if it is unpopular or controversial. Ali found Islam as the source of his inspiration and motivation and used it to propel himself into the stratosphere.


Even though Cassius returned from the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome to a parade for his gold medal, he was still refused service at a restaurant in Lousivelle. This was the segregated south. In 1967, Ali was stripped of his championship title. His passport was taken and his boxing liscence was cancelled. This was because he refused the draft because of religious reasons. For three and a half years Ali did not box and he appealed his conviction all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1971 the Supreme Court overturned his conviction and Ali was free to box and travel again. Ali was mentally and physically ready for the challenges, even though he would face some setback.

Lesson learnt: There will be challenges; life may seem unfair, but don't wallow in self pity. Pick yourself up and fight like the champ. Use adversaries as motivation to achieve GREATNESS.

The Comeback

Ali returned to the ring in 1971 in the Fight of the Century at Madison Square Gardens against Joe Frazier and lost. He lost again in 1973 to Ken Norton but won in the rematch. This clear the way for a rematch with Joe Frazier; which Ali won. The earlier setbacks did not frustrate the champ; he did not give up or quit; rather he used verbal banter and psychological intimidation to let the world and his opponents know that he was a WINNER.

Lesson learnt: Don't be afraid of loosing. Loosing can be a way of strengthening you; it can build character, courage and determination. Use failure as a source of motivation to gain success. Ali showed great courage and determination and that makes him a CHAMPION, even if he did not win any more bout.

The Rumble in the Jungle: Ali took on George Foreman in Zaire and defeated him. This was Ali's biggest win of his career. Ali used the 'Rope-a-dope' strategy to tire out Foreman and then knocked him out. Ali was not intimidated by Foreman's record of 37 knockouts of 40 bouts.

Lesson learnt: Be prepared always, even when you are the underdog, believe in your abilities and put in the work and you will be victorious. Ali went in the fight against Foreman as a 3-1 underdog, but didn't let that faze him. He set his sight on winning and that he did.

The Thriller in Manila: Ali again faced Joe Frazier for the third time in the Philippines and won by TKO. Ali said that of this fight "was the closest thing to death that I could feel."

Lesson learnt: Be prepared to give whatever it takes to achieve your goal. Winning can come in different forms; be prepared to accept the challenge and fight with passion.

Muhammad, The Legend

The golden age of boxing was dominated by Ali. His accomplishments are more than impressive. He has received many awards and accolades. There have been many films, movies and books written about the greatest boxer in the world. Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson in the early 1980s. He continues to give back to the world in his humanitarianism. He is a true LEGEND.

Comments 30 comments

AlexK2009 profile image

AlexK2009 7 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

Great hub.

DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Thanks AlexK2009. I am inpsired by Ali's life because he knew what he wanted and went for it. It is too bad that his career ended the way it did, meaning his disability. He none the less has inspired hope in many generations to come.

easy1 profile image

easy1 7 years ago from Ireland

Excellent hub.

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States

I have always admired Ali. Great source of inspiration. Thanks for writing of him.

msorensson profile image

msorensson 7 years ago

Terrific. His sentence "I'm the greatest" was what he used to achieve greatness. He put it in his subconscious and his body did the work for him. And indeed, he was the greatest.

Thank you for this great hub

someonewhoknows profile image

someonewhoknows 7 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

unfortunately his faultering mental faculties were caused by all the head injuries he sustained as a boxer .It happens a lot to boxers,football players,as well as wrestlers.One wrestler's mental problems caused him to kill his wife.

DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

easy1, thanks for your compliment. Muhammad was the greates because he believed in himself. That should inspire many of today's young people who sometimes get frustrated and hopeless.

Thanks for stopping by.

DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Tom, thanks for your comment. Muhammad is a true champ, who even though has faults and failure transcended midiocrity to achieve GREATNESS.

DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Melinda, thanks for your support and kind words. You are right, his strategy for winning was as much psychological as physical. He believed that he was the greatest and actions follow words.

I am truelly inspired by him.

DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Hi someonewhoknows, thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately, injuries and mental fatigue are the prices that most great athletes pay for pushing their bodies to the limit. Even though Muhammad has Parkinson, he is still contributing and inspiring people all over the world. I suppose the lesson here is that everyone, even the GREATS have vulnerability.

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

You have written an outstanding article about Ali. He now lives in my home county of Berrien in Michigan. I know a lot of folks who have met him and they say he is quite a gentleman. Thanks for the fine read.

Drew Breezzy profile image

Drew Breezzy 7 years ago from somewhere in my mind

Wow very creative hub! A lot good points about success!

Todd D. 7 years ago

Good site!


Thanks for useful infos!

Todd D.


DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

James, thanks for your kind comment; much appreciated. I did read some place that Ali was living in Michigan on a farm. I wish to meet him, but since I have not yet, the closest I came to him was some of his boxing memorabilia on display in his hometown, Louisville and the museum dedicated to him.

Drew Breezzy, thanks for your comment. Ali inpires us all to be successful at what we do no matter how mundane it may be.

Todd D, thanks for stopping by. I was moved by my recent visit to the Ali centre. I have not watched Ali, the movie in its entirity, so I'm planning to do.

quicksand profile image

quicksand 7 years ago

Excellent hub indeed, and very well written too.

Cheers! :)

DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Thanks quicksand, for your kind comment. I appreciate your feedback.

my-success-guru profile image

my-success-guru 7 years ago from Upstate NY

Hey DynamicS!

Great lessons from Muhammad Ali! Man that guy could box! I guess that's why many consider him the greatest ever!

DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

my-success-guru, thanks for dropping by. Indeed, Ali could box and of course he was the greatest boxer. His life is however more than boxing. For me its about his confidence, determination and follow through. He had the dream of being the greatest boxer and he achieved it. Now how many people can actually achieve their dream to that magnitude?

For me what made him truly a champ is not because of boxing but because of his success.

Thanks for your comment.

pip 7 years ago

Ali was truly a great boxer, but he was a great person too! Even more than that he had insight and intelligence beyond my imagination.

I enjoyed your hub - thank you.

DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

pip, thanks for your comment. I agree totally, Ali is a great person as much as a champ. He definitely show that if you have goals and work hard, then you can achieve your desires. His life has inspired me to be better.

Thanks for stopping by.

Video Express profile image

Video Express 7 years ago from Boston, MA

His determination and confidence made him unstopable. Nevermind his amazing skills in the ring.

DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Video Express, I couldn't agee with you more, Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest boxers ever live.

Thanks for stopping by and for your comment.

Phillyfreeze69 6 years ago

The first time I met Muhammad Ali was in March of 1964, a few weeks after he stopped Sonny Liston in the 7th round. I was a skinny 14 year old and he look huge in my eyes...afer signing autographs for as many of us that could fit in the Principles office, I knew then that I could achieve my dreams no matter how long it would take. Ali's persona instilled this in me at an very early age. Thanks for sharing. www.alicenter.org

DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Phillyfreeze69, thanks for sharing your awesome experience of meeting one of the GREATS among us. You had the awareness at 14 years old to realize that you could achieve your dreams. Many people have gone through their whole life without making that realization.

Thanks for visiting.

Phillyfreeze69 6 years ago


You are most welcome for the comments...I have not been in the Champs presence since he attended a birthday party given in his honor by the Home of the Innocents/Kosair Charities Pediatric Convalescent Center in January of 2000.

DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada Author

Phillyfreeze69, Ali has certainly left his footprints on our history and it sounds like he continues to positively impact the world.

Thanks for stopping by.

howtobeasuccess profile image

howtobeasuccess 4 years ago from The Land of Hope

There are surely a lot of lessons to learn from great people and Ali is among these people.. , definitely thought us to fight back every time we fall...

lesliebyars profile image

lesliebyars 3 years ago from Alabama

In the ring he was the best heavyweight in history and outside the ring he is a true ambassador for peace.

lesliebyars profile image

lesliebyars 3 years ago from Alabama

What a nice article on boxing's best heavyweight fighter.

profile image

motivater 3 years ago

Great overview of Ali's life with commentary. Excellent for students, too! However, there are several grammatical errors as well as spelling errors.

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