Saturday, June 11, 2016

Muhammad Ali Leaves a Lasting Legacy

by Carolyn Finch

A week ago the news told us of the passing of Muhammad Ali, "the greatest." Yes he was the one who would "fly like a butterfly and sting
like a bee" according to him. I was especially saddened because I have looked at his picture daily for several decades. He had become a tiny part of my life. If you have ever been in one of my workshops or seminars no doubt you heard me tell a story about Muhammad Ali. Not so much a story about his Parkinson's disease, even though that was the hardest fight he ever fought and he won the right to even share that with the world. He changed the way people looked at boxing, politics, personal beliefs and self-motivation.

The stories I shared were about how he painted signs with his dad, took up boxing when his bike was stolen and he wanted to stand up for himself. Maybe you heard the story about how his prize money would be used to send a boy to Sparring Camp or to a private school. He never wanted people to know some of the things he did because underneath his spirit there was a humbleness about him.


It was several decades ago when his Parkinson's reflected his shaking and his posture started to change. I saw this myself when I shook his hand and stood with him at Macy's, in Danbury, CT., he was one person I always wanted to meet. I got my wish when he came to Danbury promoting his men's cologne. I stood in line with many people waiting to be in his environment. When I met him he carefully wrote his name while I mentioned to him that I spoke about him in my speeches. He reached out and shook my hand. Note the beautiful expression on his face. He then got up and his photographer and my husband Don took pictures. Since then Muhammad Ali's picture has shared a frame with Zig Ziglar one of my mentors who encouraged me be a Professional Speaker.

They were two very different people but both messengers of the belief that doing for others first is doing for yourself as well. At one time Muhammad Ali was the most recognized American in the world. He believed and achieved. He was opinionated but aren't we all? What lessons he taught us! What stamina he had,even when he burned his arm during the lighting of the Olympic flame from the torch carried around the world. Nobody really knew about his burn. It was because he kept his arm straight at his side to avoid the shaking from Parkinson's. Thanks for being you Muhammad Ali and showing us all it's okay to fight for what you believe in. I'll be seeing you right there on my desk but do rest in peace.

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  1. We're going to miss him, Carolyn.

  2. I also miss High School kids. Don't you teach that level and is it Special Education. If so maybe you would like me to speak to them about Brain Gym and activities they can do for health and energy. Let me know for next year.