Make your days count

As I reflect on the life of the late Muhammed Ali, one of my greatest lessons from him is embodied in his quote “Don’t count the days, make the days count.”

Muhammed Ali’s fame came via boxing where he was the world’s only three-time heavyweight champion of the world. Ali, who was born Cassius Clay in 1942, was dubbed “The Greatest”, but was also a controversial and polarizing figure both inside and outside the ring.

Ali’s refusal to be drafted into the U.S. military because of his opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War led to his arrest, being found guilty of draft evasion and the stripping of his boxing titles.

The refusal to be drafted into the U.S. Military even drew praise from Martin Luther King Jr. who said it was an “act of courage.” He eventually appealed in the U.S. Supreme Court and had his conviction overturned.

By that time, Ali who was out of the ring for nearly four years, did not sit quietly in his corner counting his days. His anti-war stance had gained sympathy, which led to him speaking at colleges across the USA, criticizing the Vietnam War and advocating African American pride and racial justice.

Ali made his days count with his message of racial pride for African Americans and resistance to white domination during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.

The very vociferous Ali who used boxing as the vehicle for his platform, got his inspiration from professional wrestler “Gorgeous George” Wagner, thriving in and craving the spotlight. In Guyana the phrase “he got a lot of mouth” might be an understatement when describing Ali.

Remembering his visit to Guyana in 1979, my grandmother who met Ali when he visited the residence of the British High Commission where she worked at the time, described him as a “giant”. That is the word I would use today to describe Ali’s work outside of the ring. At the end of his professional boxing career, Ali made his days count by becoming a goodwill ambassador.

A Washington Post article had this to say about Ali:

Ali is proof that deep conviction, explained eloquently under duress, resonates around the world, even among those who do not entirely agree — in fact, even among many who strongly disagree.

Ali will forever be remembered as a figure of great symbolic importance, using his fame to speak for peace. He was certainly one of the most popular men to walk the face of this earth, being universally revered by people from all walks of life including kids, presidents and popes.

How are you making your day count?


Muhammad Ali, make the days count

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