What's the purpose of idealism? Lessons learned from Muhammad Ali
Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., who would later become known as the world champion boxing Muhammad Ali, was also known for his many typical statements and idealism. One of his more famous quotes was: "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee". But also "Don't count days, let the days count". Muhammad was a fighter in the ring because he had learned to fight outside the ring. Not with his fists, but mentally. He was a go-getter, full of discipline and with a clear goal in mind: justice and equality! In this article, we will show you what his purpose of idealism was.
Was Muhammad Ali actually a real boxer?
Ali had a higher goal. He didn't fight to win, he won to contribute to social equality and to bring attention to the people in the lower social class who are struggling. Actually, Ali wasn't a real boxer at all. He was an activist and philanthropist who used boxing to achieve his goals. We cook to satisfy our hunger, but that doesn't make us a cook. He did boxing to temper his hunger for justice and equality.
Winning with idealism or brute force?
Rarely did a boxer stand so gracefully in the ring. He was known for his speed and dance moves. Often, to great frustration, the opponent didn't even know how to hit him. The opponent who had only one goal, namely to win, had no chance at all. For him, every punch Ali gave was not about the knockout, but about contributing to his idealism. This meant that he never gave up, could take any punch he got himself and eventually reach the top. He had the strength and speed, but his idealism carried him to the world title.
Idealism gives you discipline and perseverance
Of course, idealism alone isn't enough. However, they are the fuel on which many top athletes and successful entrepreneurs can run faster than others. One day a journalist entered the boxing school and asked Ali how many sit-ups he could do. 1000, 2000, more? Ali looked him straight in the eye and said:
"I don't know how many sit-ups I can do. I only start counting when it really starts to hurt!"
Ali went to extremes every day and asked the maximum of himself and his surroundings. He knew that the more famous he became and the more successful he could be, the more he could contribute to his ideals.
Is it difficult to pursue idealism?
Ali lived in a time when inequality was the most normal thing in the world. Based on skin color or income, you were more or less than another person. He knew he couldn't change that on his own. He also knew that he could do his utmost to contribute and that the road to equality and justice is difficult. Everything that has a great impact or is of great value, according to Ali, was difficult to achieve. He once told his daughter:
"If you want to find gold you have to dig deep. If you want diamonds, you have to go a little deeper and if you want an emerald you just dig a little further. Nothing that really matters to you and what really is of any significance will come naturally."
Can you succeed without idealism?
Ali believed that you are on earth with a purpose. That you get talents to use them to contribute to the world and society. His idealism has helped him to become who he was and to be able to do just that little bit more than the other. But everything comes to an end. Especially in top sport. It wasn't the lack of motivation, but the lack of physical strength and endurance that put an end to sequential successes. In 1976 he was in the ring against Spinks. Spinks had much fewer ideals, but he did win. Afterward, Spinks celebrated his victory by making the following statement:
"I'm the latest, but Ali is still The Greatest."