A Tribute To Muhammad Ali: The Athlete, Philanthropist And Legend

A Tribute To Muhammad Ali: The Athlete, Philanthropist And Legend

"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."
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As of June 3, the world has been without a boxing legend. Over the course of the last few days, the world has mourned the loss of Muhammad Ali; athlete, boxer, and philanthropist. As a former boxing enthusiast, it is very saddening to lose this founder of boxing, and it is as equally sad to lose someone so passionate about civil rights, who truly made a difference. Few know about his life in its entirety, most just know about the man who was a phenomenal boxer. Over the course of this article, we will pay tribute to not only the athlete, but the philanthropist, donor, and voice of a generation.

Beginning the Legend

Muhammad Ali was born in 1942, a time of political and social strife as the fight for civil rights was beginning. Ali had more than enough experience with racial prejudice and discrimination over the course of his childhood, and his introduction to boxing stemmed from him needing to defend his bike from a thief. He began learning how to box at the age of 12, and competed in his first amateur bout in 1954, winning by a split decision.

Ali only continued to conquer from there, winning the 1956 Golden Gloves tournament for novices in the light heavyweight class. He went on to win the Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions three years later, then the Amateur Athletic Union’s national title as well.

At the age of 18, he competed in his first Olympics in Rome with the US boxing team. Standing at 6’3, he was quite a formidable opponent. During those Olympics, he won the gold by beating Zbigniew Pietrzkowski from Poland. After his victory, he was viewed as a hero to the American people and turned professional upon his arrival back on U.S. soil. It was around this time that his famous quote, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” was coined.

Controversy

Aside from his athletic achievements, Ali has also had some time in the spotlight for some other reasons. After his Olympic win, he decided to join the black Muslim group the Nation of Islam in 1964. This is also when he decided to change his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali.

He also hit the media by refusing to serve in the military after he was drafted to fight in the Vietnam War in 1967, on the grounds that he was a practicing Muslim minister with beliefs that prevented him from fighting.

He was then arrested for committing a felony and was stripped of his world title and boxing license. He appealed the indictment but was found guilty of violating Selective Service laws and was sentenced to five years in prison. Ali never actually served this time and remained free while missing three years of boxing. The Supreme Court eventually overturned this conviction in June 1941.

Comeback

After his boxing hiatus, Ali was looking for a strong comeback. He fought again in 1971 with a massive fight against Joe Frazier in the “Fight of the Century.” They went back and forth over 15 rounds before Frazier clinched the win. It marked Ali’s first professional loss after 31 wins.

Another legendary fight of Ali’s was the “Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman in 1974. He eventually knocked Foreman out in the eighth round, silencing many critics. Ali then redeemed his earlier loss to Frazier in the “Thrilla in the Manila” in 1975 after 14 rounds. Ali eventually retired in 1981 after a loss to Trevor Berbick.

Post-Retirement

Following his retirement, Ali was recognized as a generous philanthropist, in part because of his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in 1984. He also supported Make-A-Wish and the Special Olympics, as well as traveling to numerous countries and becoming a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

In 2005, Ali received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George Bush. In the same year, he opened the Muhammad Ali Center in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

Unfortunately, in his retirement, his Parkinson’s disease became coupled with the onset of spinal stenosis, yet he remained in the public eye. Ali was present for the inauguration of the first African-American president in 2009, and later received the President’s Award from the NAACP for his public service efforts.

In early 2015, Ali was hospitalized multiple times for a variety of ailments, the last time being June 2016. Ali passed away on June 3, 2016, in Phoenix, AR. Since then, the world has mourned the loss of not only a champion athlete, but a true legend in the eyes of society. He will forever be celebrated for his athletic skills, as well as his willingness to speak his mind and courage to challenge societal norms.
Cover Image Credit: Eric Trules

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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10 Microaggressions That I'm Completely Over You Saying

No, you're not being sensitive, that was actually kinda rude.

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I have always noticed little phrases that make me tick a little bit. You know, the ones that make you tilt your head a bit and think "Did they really mean that, like I think they meant that?" but then you just brush it off. However, the other day I was having a conversation with my best guy friend. He was explaining to me a funny story involving his older brother and at one point I said "I relate" to which he responded, "it's different for girls."

Wait, what?

Here are some subtle, everyday micro-aggressions that are getting a little old:

1. "You don't get it, it's different for boys."

Honestly, you're right. It is different, and that's why this comment bothers me, because it shouldn't be different for guys. We should be held to the same exact standards and experiences.

2. "Is it like... that time of the month?"

What if it is? That shouldn't be any of your concern. You mean to tell me you wouldn't be a happy-go-lucky ray of sunshine if it felt like there were jackknives playing hopscotch in your uterus? That's what I thought.

3. "Don't be such a girl."

That's exactly what I'm going to be. Partially because I am a girl, and partially because whatever it is you're trying to force me to do, I genuinely don't want to do. Leave me alone.

4. "Lol am I totally being friend zoned right now?"

Hahahahaha... yes. Just because you're a boy, I'm a girl and we have struck up a conversation does not mean there are butterflies going crazy in my stomach, nor will I reconsider my "friendship" status simply because you have verbally stated it. Sorry, not sorry.

5. "Are you sure you want to wear that?"

Oh, this? You mean the article of clothing I purposely picked out of my closet and have put on my body and not taken off? No, I'm actually not sure if I want to wear it yet. I'll let you know at the end of the night.

6. "Why don't you smile more? You're cuter when you smile."

And you're cuter when your mouth is shut and you're not telling me what to do. Also, I always look cute.

7. "You're being dramatic, it's not that deep."

Fun fact: It's actually as deep as I want it to be. Everything you say is up for my interpretation. I don't know how you're thinking or how you want me to process what you're saying... so if I think it's that deep, it's that deep.

8. "Well, you do this better than I do anyway."

First of all, you're most likely not even trying. Second, I don't know what I'm doing half the time and I asked you to do it for a reason. So, just do it.

9. "How could you possibly not want children?"

By not wanting them. See? That was easy to understand.

10. "There's no way you guys are 'just friends'."

There actually is a way. By being friends. The same way you're just friends with your bros and with that girl in your math class that sends you the notes. Friendship is very much possible.

* * *

To be completely honest, I've said some of these phrases. Some of them even to men. Every day I try to stop myself, even if it's mid-conversation, from saying phrases like such because every little step is another one towards a society that doesn't need to demean one gender in order to be "funny" or "relatable."

I don't expect there to be a magical day in the future where none of these phrases are spoken, but the less they're heard, the better.

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