10 Life Lessons Muhammad Ali Taught Black Boys


1. Be The Greatest

There was not a doubt in Muhammad Ali's mind that he was the greatest of all time. We believed it too. Not simply because he told us, but because his illustrious boxing career of 56 wins (37 by knockout) proved it. Discover your life's passion and champion your talent. Never settle for good, when you can be the greatest.

2. Define Who You Are

In 1964, after defeating Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali announced that he was a Muslim. He would no longer be known as Cassius Clay but, instead, Muhammad Ali. He rejected his ancestral slave name, and proudly redefined who he was. Muhammad Ali, champion. Muhammad Ali, Muslim. Muhammad Ali, draft opposer. Muhammad Ali, civil rights activist. Do not allow anyone to define you. Be you and stand boldly in who you are.

3. Stand Unapologetically for What You Believe

Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted into the United States Army during the Vietnam War. He would not fight in a war against other brown people when the black and brown people of his country were socially, politically, and economically oppressed. People were offended and outraged by his position, but Ali stood unapologetically in his beliefs. He was criminally convicted, and stripped of his WBA title and license. Yet, he remained steadfast. Have the courage to be unwavering in your principles even when others don't agree.

4. Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee

Part of Muhammad Ali's magic was his oxymoronic persona. He was tough but compassionate. Serious yet funny. Inclusive but radical. He could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. He was all encompassing. Float through life graciously, intelligently, and courageously. But sting anything that detracts from you being the best that you can be.

5. It's Not Just What You Say, But How You Say It

Muhammad Ali had the uncanny ability to say things that, if said by anyone else, would likely be labeled as inflammatory and fall on deaf ears. He candidly spoke of race, class, politics, and civil rights. Not everyone shared his views, but they listened with contemplation and respect. That is because Muhammad Ali had a way of disarming people with his humor, wit, and charm. Remember that how you say something is just as important as what you say. Always express yourself in a way that people receive what you say even when they may not agree.

6. You Are Someone's Hero, Act Like It

Muhammad Ali was a hero to millions. People of different backgrounds and from all walks of life revered him. Not solely because of his incredible talent, but because of his courage, empathy, humor, charisma, and integrity. You are someone's hero. Whether it be to your parents, your siblings, or children of your own one day. Someone is always watching and looking to you as the example. Don't let them down.

7. Honor Your Family

One of the most well-know facts about Muhammad Ali was that he was a family man. His widow, three ex-wives, and nine children were all in attendance at his memorial service. One of the greatest markers of a man is how well loved he is by his family. Never take the responsibility of fatherhood lightly. Always honor and lead your family. Be there to love, guide, and support your children. Their memory of you will be shaped by your presence in and contribution to their lives, not just by shared bloodlines.

8. Create a Life So Big, You Do Not Have to Introduce Yourself

Never did Muhammad Ali have to walk into a room and introduce himself. He created a life so big that everyone knew who he was. Strive to craft a life of good works and deeds. Be known for positively impacting the lives of others. Whether you are famous like Muhammad Ali, or are a teacher, writer, firefighter, doctor, or chef. Find ways to pour into the lives of others.

9. Always Fight the Good Fight

Muhammad Ali's life had its challenges and disappointments. Yours will too. What is more important than winning is fighting the good fight. Give whatever you do your all. Bring your 'A-Game.' You may not always have the victory, but you will always have the satisfaction of knowing that you did your very best.

10. Leave a Legacy

Muhammad Ali will always live in our hearts for being the great man that he was. Because of how he lived his life, he left an indelible legacy that survives his death. Live your life in such a way that you leave a rich legacy for your family, friends, and community.