Mohammed Ali thanks for what you taught us; thank you for the Rumble in the Jungle, the Thriller in Manilla, and the eternal lessons in tenacity in those epic struggles – struggles that you could avoid but decided to confront nevertheless.
Muhammed Ali, a legend, who chose to be a legend, chose to be a legend because he could not have chosen not to be a legend. He proclaimed himself the greatest and indeed became the greatest. For my generation looking for inspiration, Ali was an inevitable choice of a hero. My generation was indeed blessed with authentic heroes who inspired us and Ali was one of the most remarkable of them. He defined his turf, fought on his terms, defined his world and got the world to accept him on his terms and made the world to accept him in his world. To him champions were not made from the gym but from within, not from skills but from the will. “Champions ain’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them, a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.” He taught my generation to dig deep within ourselves,to draw from the depths of our souls, to empty ourselves into our dreams, and make our dreams become our reality.
Ali proclaimed himself the champion, he became the champion; he proclaimed himself the greatest and became the greatest. This is the power of postulation, the power of the spoken word, the power of our choices, the power of what we seek, the power of what we ask for, the power of what we want to be. We are products of our choices, not our excuses. “I hated every minute of training but I said don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
For those who think some of us dropped from the skies, Muhammed Ali guides that “impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they have been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact, it is an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It is a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
Ali taught us to believe in ourselves, to draw from the depths within us, to make our choices and choose our parameters, to choose how we live our lives and what we become, to have the courage to follow our beliefs and stand by our principles. To be ourselves and do not yield to the convenience of the powers that be. “If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it”.
Mohammed Ali thanks for what you taught us; thank you for the Rumble in the Jungle, the Thriller in Manilla, and the eternal lessons in tenacity in those epic struggles – struggles that you could avoid but decided to confront nevertheless. At the end of the day life is about us, about our choices, not our excuses. You taught us to be what we want to be, how to be what we want to be; that our principles make us and the courage to stand by them set us apart. Rest well Champ, rest well the Greatest.
Victor Ndoma-Egba, Senate Leader of the Seventh National Assembly and lawyer writes from Calabar, Cross River State.