About few people in few fields can we say there is a before and after.
Muhammad Ali is one of them, and beyond “just” boxing, but to sport in general, and free and open expression. Every athlete today lives in his shadow. Every war resister. Every public speaker. Every person who works for fairness.
Nobody before him did anything like what he did.
Compare athletes of today. Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan dominated their sports, but what social change did they create outside it? Who speaks with his honesty?
Compare public speakers today. What public figure spoke with such openness? Who made such sacrifices for their beliefs?
Who inspired so many? What poet or songwriter put so many phrases with so much meaning into the public dialogue to endure so much?
I think the New York Times’ video retrospective about him described him better than I could so I recommend watching it, but I’ll also include this video I posted earlier this year about how he led Martin Luther King, in Speaking authentically, Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali, and Vietnam.

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