“Float like a butterfly sting like a bee.” This quote is very famous and is often said in boxing rings around the world. It was said by Muhammad Ali and means that you should be light on your feet and also able to pack a punch. In the book Muhammad Ali: Champion of the World, Jonah Winter talks about how Muhammad Ali was a fierce competitor and had a very powerful will. When he wanted something, he pursued it like a mad man until it was achieved. Boxing was not the only place where Muhammad’s will power showed, he also had the will to succeed outside of the ring.
“Born on January 17th, 1942, and growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, Muhammad did not have a normal childhood,” (Hauser, 1992). Muhammad Ali’s name growing up was Cassius Marcellus Clay, which was also his father’s name. He had an older brother named Rahman who he called Rudy. He and his brother were very close and did lots of fun things together. Muhammad Ali came across boxing by accident. In the book, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times, author Thomas Hauser talks about how Muhammad first came into boxing. He wrote that one day, Muhammad’s bike was stolen and he was super angry and that while he was chasing the thief, he ran into a police officer who told him that he should learn how to box before he thought about fighting for revenge. He became a boxer and with the help of his coach and an incredible amount of effort and determination won over 100 fights as an amateur boxer.
Along with his boxing, he also attended high school at Louisville Central High School. Author Mark Collings talks about how Muhammad Ali was not the brightest student and preferring to draw instead of taking notes and always daydreaming in class. His book, Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of the World also says that he would spend most of his time shadowboxing in the bathroom or locker room instead of in the library studying like he should have been. He had to deal with racism starting at a young age and learned over time to ignore it. He wouldn’t have graduated if it had not been for the principle that saw great things in athletics in Muhammad’s future and let him graduate despite some objections. Despite the racism that was all over his home town, Muhammad continued to practice boxing almost every day of the week. He would wake up early and go for a run, then he would go to school, and then he would hit the gym after school. He had a new goal that he wanted to achieve; to show all of the people from Louisville that he could be just as good as any white man. He even created his own eating regiment so that he would not eat any junk food or smoke or drink. Author Jonah Winter explained that the practice and dedication paid off when Muhammad won more than one golden glove and an Olympic Gold Medal by the age of 18. His glory was short lived than because when he returned home to Louisville, he was shocked by all of the hostility towards him. He was refused service at many restaurants and also had threats and insults yelled at him wherever he went. The book, Muhammad Ali: Champion of the World, also talks about how he was so appalled by the racism that when one restaurant manager refused to seat him, Muhammad threw his Gold Medal into the Ohio River. This hostility was not because he was a boxer but because he was Muslim. It was racism like that, that made Muhammad Ali work even harder and hone his skills and eventually become the best boxer in the world. He was an underdog in his championship match even though he had a perfect record. It was after the fight that he first announced that he was a Muslim. That was also the time when he changed his name from Clay to Muhammad Ali.
During the peak of his boxing career, Ali refused to go into the army because of some religious conflicts. He had very strong will power and would not budge on the subject no matter what the consequence was. When asked about the subject, Ali said, “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong,” (Hauser, 1992). Due to his actions and words, Ali was sent to jail for five years and was fined quite a bit of money. Along with that, he was also stripped of his championship and his license to fight. He was unable to fight for three years and when he finally got back in the ring it took him a while to get back into the swing of things. It took Muhammad Ali four years from his return to the ring before he won back his world championship. Muhammad continued to box until his will took him elsewhere. Muhammad Ali retired from boxing on June 27, 1972. Racism was decreased exponentially by the time Muhammad retired from boxing. Many people considered him to be the best boxer that ever lived. His will power made him try to return to the ring a few years later but that only lasted for a few matches until he retired again. Unfortunately, Muhammad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease just a few years after he retired. His will continues to work while he fights with this disease every day of his life.
To this day, Muhammad’s powerful will continues to keep him going. He refuses to give in to his disease and also works his hardest to be a good friend and neighbor. Even though he can no longer box, he still watches his daughter who has taken over the family business. He tries his hardest to care for all of his children and his wife. Even though his disease makes his once light and fast legs turn slow and wobbly, he is still a very recognizable face among the people.
I propose that a statue be built in order to call attention to people’s struggles with racism. The statue will be of Muhammad Ali. It will be a small statue, only about three feet tall and a little over a foot wide. On this statue, Muhammad Ali will be in his boxing uniform and punching a punching bag. The punching bag will have the word racism on it in big letters. Underneath the statue will be a plaque that says, “Working hard to beat racism, one punch at a time.” This statue will symbolize everyone’s fight against racism and show how far we have come as a country. In this statue, Muhammad Ali will represent all of the minorities that have fought for equality over the years. He will have a determined look on his face that will represent the determination of the people to succeed and reach equality. The punching bag will be large and at eye level. It will represent the situation staring you right in the eye. The largeness of the bag will show how big of a problem racism is and how it takes a strong united front to take it down. The words underneath the statue will help to show how far we have come, but it will also be a reminder of the work that still needs to be put in so that we may someday live a life of equality. I am going to put the statues all over the country. You will be able to see them next to drinking fountains, bathrooms, schools, and bus stations. Statues will also be placed in front of restaurants, stores, and churches. They will also be at important places like the White House. The statue that I am proposing will be a reminder to everyone of how far we have come in the quest for equality.
Racism is a major “disaster in progress,” and needs to be eliminated (Ulmer xxvii). The problem of racism is one that has existed in the United States for a long time. It can be said that it started all the way back when the Europeans first came to America. They thought that they were better that the Native Americans that had gotten here first. Then as the United States developed, other types of people became subject to racism as well. Most notably were the Mexicans and the African Americans. The book From Slavery to Freedom, John Franklin talks about how the African Americans came here as slaves and once they were freed of their slavery in 1865, they still were not considered anywhere close to equal to the whites. The Mexicans also had problems with racism. Their problem was focused more on the fact that they worked for way less pay than the white people did. Racism continued to grow throughout the 1800’s. Eventually some people started to realize that just because people are different colors doesn’t mean that they are different on the inside. The book Racism: A Short History explains that during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, people began speaking out about racism and how all people should be equal. There have been many boycotts and strikes against racism. One of the most inspirational speeches against racism and for equality was the Martin Luther King Jr. I have a Dream speech. This speech was mostly about getting rid of segregation but they were separated by race so it is a type of racism as well. Martin Luther King was the real beginning of the fight against racism. His speeches inspired many people to start their own fights against it. Eventually because of Dr. King and many others, African Americans received their rights to vote. Racism has been steadily decreasing throughout the years but it is important to keep the past in mind so that it doesn’t happen again.
Muhammad Ali has endured racism a lot throughout his life. Being a top level boxer, he thought that racism wouldn’t affect him. However he was very wrong. Even though he was a great boxer, once he returned to his hometown he was bombarded with racial comments. He got threats and verbal abuse from people in his town who thought that he shouldn’t be a boxer because he was Muslim and not white. Along with that, according to the book King of the world: Muhammad Ali and the rise of an American hero, Muhammad was also declined a spot in a restaurant because the manager was white and only allowed white people in his restaurant. This racism destroyed Muhammad inside and he got so mad that he through his Olympic Gold Medal that he had just won into the Ohio River. Eventually Muhammad Ali succeeded in his attempts to prove to everyone that a Muslim could be just as good at boxing as any of the white people. Muhammad was able to live a racism free life for a few years before the Vietnam War. When Muhammad said that he would not fight for the United States army, many of his supporters turned against him and once again he was subject to racist remarks.
This statue that I am proposing needs to be built in order to remind people of where the United States used to be with the regards to racism. The people need to be aware of what used to be separated by race and how far we as a country have come in eliminating this problem. The place of the statue will be important because it will show all of the places where races have been separated in the past and also will be in all of the places where people stood up against racism. Muhammad Ali is an important part of my statue because he dealt with racism personally. He is also a good person to have on my statue because he is not white and he is a respectable and well-known figure in American history. The words underneath my statue are also important because they help to explain that racism is being fought every day, but it is still around and more people need to stand up and continue what has already been done.
The emblem that I am going to create will be a picture of people of all different colors coming together. Everyone will be smiling and holding hands around the world and the world will have the words racism on it. The world will represent the weight of the overall problem that racism causes. The people are representing the different races all over the world that are fighting against racism in order to live a life of equality. The overall point of my emblem will be that people are above racism. I chose this image because it symbolizes how big of a problem that racism is and how we as people need to work to be above the problem. Also people need to know that they are not alone in fighting this problem. Once they know that they have other people that they can count on, hopefully they will work harder to continue fighting against racism.
The words that are going to go with my emblem will be, “If we stand together, there is nothing that we can’t accomplish.” It is an important saying to have by my emblem so that all the readers can see exactly what my emblem is saying and how it is connecting all the different parts of my MEmorial together. It is important to my emblem because it signifies the whole picture and puts words with the picture. It is important to my MEmorial because it brings together the different parts of my MEmorial. It will reach out to people as well and get them to feel like racism is a big problem and try to be above it.
If you think that the topic of racism is important, than there are many different places that you could go visit to learn more and to further inspire you about the problem. The most influential place where you should go would be the Martin Luther King Jr. monument in Washington D.C. This is a very nice place to visit because Martin Luther King was a very important person in the fight against segregation and racism. The composition of the memorial utilizes landscape elements to powerfully convey three fundamental and recurring themes of Dr. King's life. They were justice, democracy and hope. The monument shows what can happen if you stand up for what you believe in. The words underneath this monument also help to influence people that racism needs to continue being fought against and that Martin Luther King Jr. was just the beginning of the fight. Martin Luther King Jr.’s monument will be a great place to visit because it shows what people sacrifice in order to live a life where racism does not exist and where everyone can live a life of equality. The memorial is envisioned as a quiet and receptive space where people can go and reflect. Even though it is a place of quiet, it still has a powerful and emotional spirit.
An agency that would be helpful if you are trying to learn more of help out the fight against racism would be the Center for Equal Opportunity. This organization publishes policies on issues dealing with race, ethnicity, assimilation, and public policy. It will help you to get your views across and give you all the information that you want on equality and many other topics. The Center for Equal Opportunity is important in helping to deal with problems people have with race. If anyone has questions about racism or how they can help fight against this problem in the world today.
Collings, Mark. Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes if the World. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2007. Print.
Franklin, John. From Slavery to Freedom. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc, 2007. Print.
Frederickson, George. Racism: A Short History. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2002.
Hauser, Thomas. Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992. Print.
Remnick, David. King of the world: Muhammad Ali and the rise of an American hero. New York: Vintage Books, 1999. Print.
Ulmer, Gregory L. Electronic Monuments. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 2005.
Winter, Jonah. Muhammad Ali: Champion of the World. New York: Random House Inc, 2008. Print.