Muhammad Ali: An Outspoken Legend Passes Away

Muhammad Ali: An Outspoken Legend Passes Away

The man who fought for what he believed in.
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After being hospitalized because of respiratory issues and put on life support, Muhammad Ali passed away on June 3, 2016 in Phoenix, Ariz. Since 1985, Ali had been struggling with Parkinson's Disease. Even with this setback, he managed to remain outspoken. Of the many political and social issues he covered, he focused on helping people to embrace and accept Islam, especially when many politicians have relied on anti-Muslim rhetoric to gain a following.

He is best known for his athletic prowess in boxing -- having won an Olympic gold medal and received the heavyweight title three times, becoming the first fighter to do so. Often being described as "silver-tongued" or "poetic," Ali was also famous for his speeches and trash talk.

Muhammad Ali was self-assured, determined, and creative, and after I, years back, watched a video clip of him talking, I gained a large amount of respect for him. Despite being quiet and soft-spoken myself, his outgoing nature inspired me in many ways. He unabashedly stood up for what he knew to be true. Many people back down if their views are challenged, especially when threatened with the loss of their freedoms, but he prevailed in letting his beliefs be known.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. in Louisville, Ky. (1940), Ali began his boxing training when he was 12 years old. After his bike was stolen, he told police officer and boxing trainer Joe Martin that he wanted to beat up the thief, to which Martin reportedly responded with, "Well, you better learn to fight before challenging people," and took Ali under his wing.

Even before he reached the age of 18, Ali excelled in the sport. Before choosing the name Muhammad Ali, he referred to himself as Cassius X. When he joined Nation of Islam, he changed his name to how we know it today. In 1975, he converted to Sunni Islam, then to Sufism in 2005.

It was because of the grounds of his faith that he refused to be inducted into the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. Demonstrating more than a knack for trash talk, Ali spoke multiple times about opposing the war and draft as a Muslim minister, an American citizen, and a black man.


One of his most remarkable yet lesser-known feats was when he met with Saddam Hussein on Nov. 29, 1990 in Baghdad, Iraq, to secure the release of 15 American hostages. Ali stayed in the city for about a week, meeting starstruck citizens before he was able to talk with Hussein.

Despite running out of medication for his Parkinson's and being bedridden, he maintained his drive to do what he came there for, and succeeded. During and afterwards, the media and those in the U.S. government criticized his mission, seeing it as nothing more than a publicity stunt, to which Ali responded that he needs publicity for many things, but not for helping people.

After powering through 32 years despite being troubled with Parkinson's Disease, Ali proved that he was just as capable a fighter as he was in his boxing days. He picked fights in and outside the ring -- some purely physical, others with his words and beliefs.

Throughout his life, many labels had been placed upon him: boxer, egomaniac, Muslim, black, insincere, American, etc. Many of these have been said contemptuously, trying to draw attention away from his identity and all he accomplished. In his death, may we remember him for the athletic, poetic, religious, and humanitarian legend he was.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia

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To That One Friend Who Deserves The World

Since I can't give you the world, I hope giving you this article is enough.
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My wonderful friend,

You deserve love.

You deserve to marry your best friend.

You deserve appreciation.

You deserve that no matter who comes in and out of your life, every selfless thing you do for someone is acknowledged.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You deserve kindness.

You deserve to have the nicest people in the world surround you all of the time.

You deserve support.

You deserve to have someone there for you at the beginning of every good day and at the end of every bad one, to have someone who wants to fix all of your problems.

You deserve hope.

You deserve to always be optimistic.

You deserve laughter.

You deserve to never stop smiling and actually mean it every time you do.

You deserve forgiveness.

You deserve to be able to be given second chances because without a doubt you are worth it.

You deserve friendship.

You deserve to have a friend who can be just as good of a friend as you are.

You deserve honesty.

You deserve to always be told the truth.

You deserve motivation.

You deserve to never want to give up and always push yourself.

You deserve success.

You deserve to have everything you have worked so hard for.

You deserve faith.

You deserve to always know it will get better.

You deserve loyalty.

You deserve to have that one person who will never leave and always be there for you.

You deserve happiness.

You deserve to be genuinely content with your life.

You deserve the world.

If I could give it to you, I would.

Yes, life gets tough sometimes. The unthinkable happens and your world feels like it is crashing down but you can get past all of this.

Thank you for being so selfless. It amazes me how you do it sometimes, but thank you for always making everyone your main priority when they need you.

I know I may not say it enough, but truly thank you for all you do for me. I don’t always know how to show how much someone means to me, especially when it is someone as great as you because I don’t know what I did to deserve you, but thank you.

I love you.

Cover Image Credit: Liz Spence

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The Disrespectful Nature Of My Generation Needs To Stop

Why choosing phone games over a Holocaust survivor was my breaking point.

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While many students that attended Holocaust survivor Hershel Greenblat's talk were rightfully attentive, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a few outlier students tapping away on their phones. They were minute movements, but inappropriate nonetheless.

Immediately I became infuriated. How, I thought, fuming, did my generation become so blithely unaware to the point where we could not proffer basic respect to a survivor of one of the most horrific events in human history?

Perhaps the students were just texting their parents, telling them that the event would run a bit long. 10 minutes later, my eyes diverted from Greenblat back to the students. They were still on their phones. This time, I could see the screens being held horizontally—indicating a game or a show was being played. I wanted to get up, smack the distractions out of their hands, and ask them why they thought what they were doing was more important than a Holocaust speaker.

I will not waste any more time writing about the disrespectful few. Because they could not give Greenblat the time of their day, I will not give them mine. Instead, I want to focus on a massive trend my generation has mistakenly indulged ourselves in.

The Greenblat incident is only an example of this phenomenon I find so confusing. From young, it was instilled in me, probably via Chinese tradition, that elders should be respected. It is a title only revoked when unacceptable behavior allows it to be, and is otherwise maintained. I understand that not everybody comes from a background where respect is automatically granted to people. And I see that side of the story.

Why does age automatically warrant respect? It is the fact that they have made it this far, and have interesting stories to tell. There are exceptions, perhaps more than there are inclusions.

But this fact can be determined by the simple act of offering an elderly person your seat on public transportation. Sure, it can be for their health, but within that simple act is a meaningful sacrifice for somebody who has experienced more than you.

Age aside, at Greenblat's talk, majority of the disrespect shown might not have been agist. Instead, it could have been the behavior students just there for the check-in check-out extra credit that multiple classes and clubs were offering. While my teachers who advertised the event stressed the importance of attendance not just for the academic boost, but for the experience, I knew that some of the more distracted students there must have been those selfish, ignorant, solely academic driven cockalorums.

I stay hopeful because majority of my classmates were attentive. We knew to put aside our Chromebooks, regardless of note-taking, and simply listen to what Greenblat had to offer.

It would be wrong to label my generation as entitled— that's a misnomer for the generation before. We are still wavering between the line of automatic respect and earned respect, but we need to set a line for people whom we know the stories of. Especially a Holocaust survivor.

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