WBA President Gilberto Mendoza fondly remembers Muhammad Ali
Once upon a time during a TV interview my father was asked who was the best boxer of all time. He immediately replied: “Who else? The greatest will always be Muhammad Ali.”
Since listening to these words, my curiosity took me to researching this sports figure. All it took was one picture, and I became Ali’s fan. This simple experience proves the immortality of Ali. He will live eternally because his endless charisma is passed through generations.
Muhammad Ali’s boxing abilities were greater than what was evident. His speed, power and ring generalship resulted in an Olympic Gold Medal and enabled him to win the world heavyweight championship three times in an era of tough and brave opposition. He even created a fierce rivalry with powerful and relentless Joe Frazier, his opponent in three legendary bouts watched worldwide.
Ali’s boxing matches made a significant contribution to the sport because they boosted the sport’s level of popularity. His unique personality reflected the similarity of boxing with life, revealing the determination, willingness and resilience needed to achieve any goal we choose to pursue.
Without a doubt, Ali would have become a hero in any place he turned up. Who could forget the crowd chanting “Ali Boma Ye” in unison during his bout against the feared George Foreman in Kinshasa during the era of Mobutu’s dictatorship? At the time, Ali became a real-life folk hero to the oppressed people of Zaire.
Ali’s steadiness of his principles and values made him challenge the world. After being eligible to join America’s Army during the Viet Nam war, he refused his induction based on his antiwar belief. He placed free choice over the right to earn a living. Few men had his courage to jeopardize their role as the family bread-winner.
Since a very young age Ali’s legacy could be seen not only in words but also in actions. He allowed no barriers to compromise his convictions. Not even his precious Olympic gold medal could be an impediment to expressing his anger at the way black people were treated in America. Lore has it that he tossed it in the Ohio River.
Muhammad Ali is everything to boxing. Everyone in the boxing community is indebted to him. Boxing is worldwide sport thanks to his boxing skills, intelligence and charisma. He showed how deep boxing would run through your veins.
He flew like a butterfly and he stung me like a bee, leaving in me the passion to make the sport better every day.