A lot has been said and written about Muhammad Ali, the American boxing titan who died on June 3. The man has been eulogised for his athletic brilliance, the absorbing quotes and the combination of a butterfly and a bee in the same soul.
Muhammad Ali was not just a sportsman, he was a statesman as well
But before everything, Ali was a part of an indomitable spirit which never compromised with the unjust world order that was dominant in those times. He was not just a sportsman, he was a statesman as well.
Sports, just like politics, gave a medium to express a strong voice
Ali symbolised a spirit which looked more attractive when was manifested by means of sports. Sports, like politics, was then a medium to express an equally strong voice though unlike the latter, it did not feature the extremities of assassination or bloodshed.
Muhammad Ali was part of a tradition which the mighty Windies had also exhibited
The assertion of his thinking personality by Ali was also seen in the playing style of the West Indies when they were at their peak. The Caribbeans were exciting and admired not just because of their superior cricketing abilities but because of their spirit of not letting the 'white' go without a fight.
Like Ali, Viv Richards and his colleagues also did not bow before anybody
Just as Ali's definition of a boxing bout went as "a white audience seeing two blacks beating each other up", the great West Indian batsman Sir Vivian Richards's single-minded strategy to not end up as the second best in cricket so that the Afro-Indian people of the English-speaking Caribbean islands at least had one reason to smile in a world where they were marginalised was an equally powerful gesture. The same held true for Bob Marley, the late Jamaican reggae singer.
Ali, Richards, Marley---Each of them a Nelson Mandela in their own rights
The Alis, Richards and Marleys and their ilk asserted a voice which needed more than just a political medium. They were the Nelson Mandelas and Martin Luther King Juniors in their respective fields but had the same influence on millions.
With the loss of each of these souls (barring Richards who is still shining bright as he used to during his playing days), the eventful history of this Planet loses its precious chapters on human rights---their violation and the counter-voice to champion their cause.