This is dedicated to one of the greatest Africans that ever lived.

A few hours ago, news broke that the incomparable Muhammad Ali, the boxer who flew like a butterfly, stung like a bee has gone on. At 74, Ali finally fell to Parkinson disease in an Arizona Hospital.

Muhammed Ali occupies a significant place in my list of the top ten black people of all times. These are the people whose lives have reshaped the perception of the world about the black person. By their stubbornness, they transformed the African from being a hewer of wood and fetcher of water for the rest of mankind. From being merely slaves, Africans may today compete with the rest of God’s children for God’s bounties. If the truth must be told, without the likes of Muhammed Ali, there never would have been a Barack Obama, an American President of African heritage.

Ali was like a Donald Trump but a much better polished version. He had the gift of the garb. He was bold. No one out-talked Muhammed Ali. No one out hyped a fight than Muhammed Ali. “It will be a thriller when I beat the Gorilla in Manila”, Ali boasted about his impending fight with Joe Frazier in the Philippines. Ali messed with the brains of Joe Frazier, and won.

Ali brought intellect into boxing and turned what otherwise was a cheap sport into intriguing and respected entertainment and a global money spinner. He did it without being subservient to anyone of any colour and in so doing gave the black personality a lot of respect.

While Muhammed Ali taunted everyone with his macho black image, Papa James Brown from the Apollo Theatre in Harlem was saying it loud, “I am black and proud!” and Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr was holding thousands spell bound by his eloquence and his words. To me, this trio in America may have done more to reshape the perception of everyone in the world about the true value of the black person. To me, they laid the groundwork for the world to finally understand and appreciate the spirit of the great Nelson Mandela.

In the coming days, a lot will be written and said about Muhammed Ali, the greatest sportsman of all times. One thing that will not be in dispute is that there will never be another Muhammed Ali.

Tony Okoroji, is the Chairman of the Board of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON)
Credit : Premium Times