The Enduring Legacy of Muhammad Ali

I’ve come to understand a little bit of the pull of boxing over the last few months.  I love Sun Kil Moon, and “Duk Koo Kim” made me look up the fighter.  I watched his last fight, his last struggle.  I get the attraction, the primal nature of it.  I wanted to see Ronda Rousey get knocked out that one time, so I watched video of it … a few times.  Then I watched other MMA videos.

And then I got back to the point, which is that any “sport” whose end goal is to cause major damage to the opponent’s brain really isn’t very sporting.  It’s ludicrous that we prosecute street fights and laud prizefights.

Ali deserved better, and frankly, we deserve better.  King was taken from us at 39 by a rifle shot; Ali’s “Parkinson’s” was diagnosed at 42.  The men were certainly different, and it’s perhaps a reach to equate the two, but it’s also safe to say that their social conscience and willingness to stretch the boundaries of what it means to be human and strive to better yourself and your fellow man would have entwined them.  Both could reasonably be alive with powerful voices today, but no.

And yes, the enduring photo of Ali is him standing over Sonny Liston.  But did it have to be?  Were we really meant to have the final image of Ali be of him at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics?

I feel cheated.