Remembering Muhammad Ali

With the news of the passing of Muhammad Ali, our thoughts turn to the man and the mark he left on our world. At TEAMS 2007 in Louisville, we had the honor of providing a tour and off-site session at the beautiful Muhammad Ali Center. The political sportswriter Dave Zirin, now the sports editor for The Nation, provided insights into an athlete who used his sport as a springboard to position himself in the middle of many of the great societal issues of our time, thereby transcending sport.

Some time ago, I discovered the first of Ali’s poems to ever appear in print. He wrote it during the flight home from the 1960 Olympic Summer Games in Rome, where he won a gold medal:

To make America the greatest is my goal,
So I beat the Russian, and I beat the Pole,
And for the USA won the Medal of Gold.
Italians said, “You’re greater than Cassius of Old.”

We like your name, we like your game,
So make Rome your home if you will.
I said I appreciate kind hospitality,
But the USA is my country still,
‘Cause they’re waiting to welcome me in Louisville.

Now as Ali returns to Louisville for the final time, he will forever beckon us there too, to the Ali Center and an appreciation of things greater than ourselves.