Muhammad Ali Enterprises and Jeter Publishing has just announced the publication of Muhammad Ali Unfiltered as a tribute to his humanitarian activity. In our time, when so much bloodshed turns people away from each other, many of us might have the urge to find spiritual guidance. For a while, we might feel pressured to conform to the latest fashions, follow the popular trends, and listen to other people’s views without giving ourselves time to develop our own. After struggling in the dark by ourselves, we might eventually turn to someone who can help us grapple with our chaotic reality – a figure who represents hope and peace. Muhammad Ali is such a figure.
The book draws attention to the values that we might have lost along the way. By emphasizing the six core principles that Muhammad Ali lived by, it turns us toward the best in people. No matter what we do in life, whether we are sports champions, engineers, or simply clerks, we can all make our unique contributions to humanity. The book emphasizes the principles that guided Ali’s life and “align[s] with the mission of The Muhammad Ali Center, which helps to preserve and share Ali’s legacy and ideals, promoting the six core principles that he lived by: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality” (Simon and Schuster). Each one of these principles speaks to what it means to be human. We soon realize that Muhammad Ali was a profoundly enlightened individual who was guided by a powerful understanding of the bigger purpose of life. This purpose may seem quite obscure to us simply because many of us have staked our lives on getting ahead in the game.
As we look at this book and the great person it tributes, we are introduced to a completely different level of development and a truly unique approach to life. Eventually, we learn that getting ahead was not at all the end goal for Muhammad Ali. He is guided by a philosophical and deeply religious attitude. Consequently, the book introduces us to a vision of life that surpasses the earthly. As we read, we are encouraged to help those who need guidance, comfort, or simply someone who would listen to them. In Muhammad Ali, we see a person who lived according to a unique set of principles the most notable of which was his attitude to religion and spirituality. Muhammad Ali believed in God’s presence in his life: “God is watching me. God don’t praise me because I beat Joe Frazier. God don’t give nothing about Joe Frazier… He wants to know how do we treat each other” (CNS News blog). He realizes that God cares about our attitude to those around us. Whether or not we are successful is completely beside the point, because, in the end, what matters is how we approach life and what we do for one another.
The book explores Ali’s unique attitude to success. For him, success was about unwavering courage, hard work, and undoubtedly talent. A person who has invested so much effort in his profession and sweated blood to live his dream does not understand the meaning of the word impossible. Impossible does not exist for him. In fact, for him, “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion” (CBS News). We see that the standards he sets for himself are so high that he does not even allow for the possibility of calling anything impossible. He does not believe in it. According to him, people live in the world in order to explore their potential to change it.
Muhammad Ali Unfiltered describes the life of a truly noble and enlightened person. In him, we see someone who actually lives and breathes at a much higher altitude than the typical consumer. The book motivates us to free ourselves from a complete fixation on our needs and wants. As we look at this book, we inevitably think about how our interest in our own comfort and pleasures could pull us away from an awareness of God and our responsibilities before other people. What we need to do, it seems to be saying, is rise above a fixation on ourselves. Ali’s example invites us to consider a different attitude to life, especially when we read the following: “When I get out of boxing, when I’m through, I’m going to do all I can to help people … Here’s bunch of boys need some money, and somebody’s calling me to help them. God is watching me” (Simon and Schuster). In his words, we sense the urge to help people, to rise above ourselves and our own interests and do something truly worthy for others. He calls us to action, motivating us to reform our lives and to come out of our isolated spaces in order to take in the world at large.
Muhammad Ali’s legacy lives on. The book tributes his unique approach to life, his courage, and his intrepid attempt to achieve the impossible. It commemorates the life of a genuinely talented person, someone who made every second of his life count. A great person who lived his life for other people, entertaining them in the ring, supporting them with money, has truly made the most of it. The book lives on in our minds, filled with the excitement of the moment and bubbling with the promises of tomorrow. Even after we finish the book and move on with our lives, a single phrase stands out in our memories: “Don’t count the days. Make days count.