There’s a lot that can be said to pay tribute to Muhammad Ali. But this 1977 interview where he reflected on his life post-boxing and getting ready to “meet God” says it all…
“So what I’m gonna do when I get out of boxing? Is to get myself ready to meet God. Don’t people die everyday? It’s a scary thing to think that I’m going to hell to burn eternally forever so what am I gonna do? When I get out of boxing or when I’m through I’m gonna do all I can to help people.
“He wants to know how do we treat each other, how do we help each other. So I’m going to dedicate my life to using my name and popularity to helping charities, helping people, uniting people.We need somebody in the world to help us all make peace. So when I die, if there’s a heaven, I want to see it.”
“The most important thing is what’s gonna happen when you die, are you going to go to heaven or hell, and that’s eternity. How long is eternity? So what am I gonna do when I’m through fighting? I only have 16 years to be productive, get myself ready to meet God and go to the best place, does that make sense?”
He leaves me with little left to add. Now, I know that there are plenty, and I mean plenty of flaws that we could pick apart in the comments section here. But considering what an icon Muhammad Ali came to be, and just how much he contributed to American culture, this isn’t the time nor the place. For all his flaws, Muhammad Ali did a lot for this country. Here was an athlete who dominated, who gave his best in the ring. But he recognized there was far more to life than just life. He understood, like many of us know, Earth is merely a rest stop to something greater. The beauty of knowing that worldview is if you truly understand it, the limited time you have on Earth becomes more fulfilling. Instead of serving merely yourself, you can be a servant to others. In many ways, that’s what Ali was.
Mr. Ali. You will be missed. You will be remembered.