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That moment of disappointment that shaped Muhammad Ali’s legacy

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That moment of disappointment that shaped Muhammad Ali’s legacy

History has always presented the great Muhammad Ali, boxing heavyweight champion of the world, as humble, down to earth, and kind person, especially in relating with his fans and less privileged people.

This story captures Muhammad Ali’s determination, resilience, and commitment to being a different kind of champion, one who always remembered and respected his fans. In his words,

“Before embarking on my journey to Italy, I decided to make one last attempt to meet my idol, Sugar Ray Robinson. With determination, I walked up Fifth Avenue all the way to 125th Street, my heart set on getting his autograph and sharing my dreams with him. I wanted to tell him that I was on my way to the Olympics to win a gold medal, and that I admired him greatly. More importantly, I wanted to declare that I would be the heavyweight champion of the world by the time I was twenty-one.

“Upon arriving at the club, I stationed myself outside, willing to wait as long as necessary for Sugar Ray to arrive. The hours passed slowly, but I didn’t mind. I would have stood there all week if I had to. It was around ten o’clock at night when he finally drove up. My excitement was so overwhelming that, for the first time in my life, I found myself speechless.

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“When I managed to pull myself together, I approached Mr. Robinson and eagerly explained how far I had traveled just to see him and how long I had been waiting. I told him about my aspirations to become the heavyweight champion and how he was my hero. But to my dismay, he never really looked at me. He gave me a quick pat on the shoulder and said, “Later, boy, I’m busy right now.”

“I was crushed. I couldn’t believe he had brushed me aside so easily, especially after I had waited all day for him to show up. I felt as if my feet were made of cement. I couldn’t move. I just stood there, watching as Sugar Ray Robinson turned his back to me and walked away.

“Although I felt deeply hurt and let down, I resolved not to let my disappointment get the best of me. I vowed to be different when I became a great boxer. I promised myself that I would be the kind of champion who fans could approach and talk to. I would shake their hands, sign every autograph, and even have some autographs ready in advance so that, even when in a hurry, I could still make sure everyone went home happy. I would go out of my way to show my fans how important they were and how much I appreciated them. At that moment, I swore never to turn a fan away.

“I didn’t want anyone to feel the disappointment and hurt that I had felt that night. I was determined always to make time for the people who looked up to me, especially children. I knew that when I became a champion—and I knew that I would—I would remember what it was like before I made it big. I wouldn’t forget where I came from. I was going to be my own kind of champion, a champ for all people everywhere in the world.

“No matter how high I climbed the ladder of success, I vowed to view the world without looking down on anyone. And I wouldn’t forget the boy that I once was.”

 

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