Monday, June 6, 2016

Muhammad Ali - A Complex Man Who Died In A Way-Too-Simple Time

I've been upset at the passing of Muhammad Ali this week. In a nation where celebrities come and go, this was a man who was timeless. Not only that, he was the single greatest representative of the sport I love. What's more, he was a social icon who fought against injustice. Lastly, I'll never forget the guy literally rescuing American prisoners from Iraq (Google it if you have to). How could such a person not be missed?

Here's the thing, though: Ali wasn't perfect. Not by a long shot. Piers Morgan is in trouble for pointing out controversial things Ali said. Well, if Ali said those things, why should Morgan be in trouble? Why should he be essentially accused of racism by hipster celebrities? The answer, sadly, is obvious. We live in simplistic times where nuance is most certainly not allowed. Scared?You should be.

My favorite movie of all time is Patton. Starring George C Scott, it deals with one of Americas' greatest heroes - while actually showing his flaws. The point of the film, though, is that Patton is/was a great man, despite his defects. See, the script by Francis Ford Coppola showcased the fact that heroes are human. And we mere mortals have shortcomings, some of them quite pronounced. End of story. 

The bottom line is that Muhammad Ali was indeed a great man, one that will rightfully be sorely missed, particularly among fight fans. That doesn't mean his flaws should be glossed over, however. For to elevate the man to something beyond human is to actually diminish his achievements. We succeed in spite of our shortcomings, after all, not because those shortcomings don't exist. 

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