ENCORE: Role Model Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight – RIP

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“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” – Muhammad Ali.

The world now mourns the passing of this great role model; boxing legend Muhammad Ali is dead!

s Greatest Battle - RIP - Photo 1We all knew it would happen; he was frail, gaunt and semi-immobile; all of this combined with his muted speech – due to his end-stage Parkinson’s Disease. But the manifestation of the inevitable is still painful, grievous and depressing.

What a loss for the modern world! This is not just this writers view, but an opinion shared by many in the world. See sample tributes/quotes and a news VIDEO in the Appendices below.

The full measure of the man Muhammad Ali is now gone – he would go on to become known as “The Greatest,” and at his peak in the 1970s was among the most recognizable faces on Earth – but his undeniable impact on society continues. This legacy includes more than just the boxing ring or sports world, as his greatest fight was not in the ring, but rather the social injustice in the United States and in the US Supreme Court. The commitment, sacrifice and success of that fight make him a role model for advocates around the world, including those in the Caribbean, or wanting to elevate the Caribbean.

This most impactful “battle/fight” for Ali was detailed in a previous blog-commentary from March 21, 2014; it is being re-distributed here in the aftermath of Ali’s death on June 3, 2016. This blog highlighted another “actor” in the Ali-Supreme Court drama, someone behind the scenes but still able to make a huge impact on the case and this legacy, Kevin Connolly, a Clerk for one of the Supreme Court Judges.

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The blog ENCORE follows:


Go Lean Commentary

This story-line is retrieved from the movie “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight” (2013). See the summary here:

muhammad-ali-jpgIn 1964, world champion boxer Muhammad Ali requested exemption from the military draft based on his religious beliefs. His request was denied and when he subsequently refused induction into the army, he was convicted and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. His case eventually works itself up the Supreme Court. In their first conference after the case is presented, the justices decide by majority vote (5 to 3) to uphold the conviction and Justice John Harlan is tasked with preparing the majority opinion. He assigns one of his clerks, Kevin Connolly, to prepare a first draft but try as he might [Mr. Connolly] believes that the decision is wrong. His draft argues for overturning the conviction… eventually Justice Harlan agrees with him. The Justice must now find a way to convince his colleagues.
Source: IMDB – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2061756/?ref_=nv_sr_2

The review of this movie –  The Atlantic Magazine – adds great insight and perspective. Consider here:

In 1960 Cassius Clay burst onto the scene – and burst is about the only word to describe it – he was an 18-year-old amateur boxer who lit up the Summer Olympics in Rome with his brashness and youthful exuberance, to say nothing of his breathtaking ability. (He easily captured the light heavyweight gold medal.) Clay turned pro a few months after the Olympics, and within two years, he became more of a media star than the reigning heavyweight champion, Floyd Patterson, or Patterson’s successor, Sonny Liston. From the beginning he transcended boxing, making bold predictions – usually correct – about what round he would stop his opponents in; his hilarious doggerel poetry was recited by school kids who had never seen a boxing match. He cut a record (a cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me”), appeared in a movie (as a heavyweight contender who knocks out Anthony Quinn in the opening moments of Requiem for a Heavyweight) and, in February of 1964, shocked everyone but himself by whipping the fearsome Sonny Liston, a 7-1 favorite for the heavyweight title. Within days of his victory, though, he created an even bigger shock when he announced that he had become a Black Muslim and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. And that was just the beginning.

In 1965, he failed a mental aptitude test for the draft. But early in 1966 the war in Vietnam was escalating and resistance to it was gathering momentum, so the standards for induction were lowered and Ali was classified as eligible for the draft. His lawyer presented a letter to the draft board requesting deferment as a conscientious objector. Three days later, the request was denied, and in 1967 he was arrested, convicted of draft evasion, and stripped of his heavyweight title by New York and other powerful state athletic commissions. In 1971, his appeal was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Opinion polls at the time (1971) indicated that the vast majority of older whites believed Ali should have been sent to jail, while an overwhelming number of blacks and younger white college students, many of whom had gone to see Ali on one of his campus appearances, vehemently supported his anti-war stance. Public sentiment about Ali pretty much followed the same lines as public opinion on the war in Vietnam, and as more people turned against the war, more supporters flocked to Ali’s corner.

The Justices reviewing this matter included Thurgood Marshall, as the only black justice on the court at the time. But Justice Marshall recused himself from the case, having been the Solicitor General on Ali’s earlier conviction. [(The Solicitor General is required to argue in front of the court on behalf of “The People”)]. Justice Harlan, the responsible party for communicating the majority decision, delegated this task to Kevin Connolly, his chief clerk; [(the Justices are allowed up to 4 Clerks to do the heavy-lifting of researching and composing opinions on before of their legal “masters”)]. Mr. Connolly was convincingly idealistic in this case; his dogged pursuit of justice helped turn the Court’s decision around.

At the time Justice Harlan, who was dying of cancer and would resign from the Court later that year, became finally convinced of the sincerity of Ali’s religious and anti-war beliefs and, against the wishes of his close friend Chief Justice Burger, shifted his vote to even the balance at 4 to 4. [(There was no further testimony from Ali or supporters, just the ruminated logic of the clerk Connolly and the appeal of a better nature)]. He eventually made such a convincing argument to the other conservatives on the court that the decision became unanimous (8 to 0, with an abstaining Justice Marshall).
Source: Extractions from Allen Barra, The Atlantic Magazine. Posted October 4, 2013; retrieved February 14, 2014 from: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/10/muhammad-alis-most-formidable-opponent-was-the-us-supreme-court/280280/

The advocate in this drama is Kevin Connolly, the chief clerk for Supreme Court Justice John Harland. His steadfast commitment to justice prevailed, in the end. He saw the miscarriage of justice in the un-balanced application of the law for religious/conscientious objections for White ministers as opposed to Black Muslim adherents of faith. He wielded his influence on his boss, Justice Harland, who then influenced the remaining court – one man made a difference on this court, and eventually the world.

The book Go Lean … Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). The book posits that one person can make a difference in the Caribbean; that there are many opportunities where one champion can elevate society. In fact the book is a collection of 144 different advocacies, so there is inspiration for the Kevin Connolly’s and Muhammad Ali’s of the region to make their mark in many different fields of endeavor. The roadmap specifically encourages the region to foster the genius potential (Page 27) in their communities, forge leadership skills (Page 171) and pursue the Greater Good (Page 37). With the participation of many advocates on many different paths for progress, the Caribbean can truly become a better place to live, work and play.

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix A – Quotes from around the world about the death of three-time heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali
(Source: Retrieved June 4, 2016 from: https://www.yahoo.com/news/reaction-death-greatest-muhammad-ali-100712903.html?ref=gs)

“He’s the most transforming figure of my time, certainly. He did more to change race relations and the views of people than even Martin Luther King. It was a privilege and an honor for me to know him and associate with him.” — Bob Arum, who promoted 26 of Ali’s fights.


Ali, Frazier & Foreman we were 1 guy. A part of me slipped away, “The greatest piece” — tweet by George Foreman, Ali’s opponent in the “Rumble in the Jungle”


“Muhammad Ali is a legend and one of the world’s most celebrated athletes, the fighter who ushered in the golden era of boxing and put the sport on the map. He paved the way for professional fighters, including myself, elevating boxing to become a sport watched in millions of households around the world” — Boxer Oscar De La Hoya, who won titles at six different weight classes.


“We lost a giant today. Boxing benefited from Muhammad Ali’s talents but not nearly as much as mankind benefited from his humanity. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Ali family. May God bless them.” — Boxer Manny Pacquiao, a champion in eight weight classes.


“Passing the Olympic torch to Muhammad to light the cauldron at the Atlanta Games in 1996 was the defining moment of my career, and a memory I will treasure forever, as much as any of the medals I won. As Olympians, our role is to inspire others to achieve their dreams, and no person has ever lived that role more than Muhammad Ali.” — swimmer Janet Evans.


“Without question his legacy is one that he defied the odds because he stood up for what he believed in and when he was put to the test he took personal harm rather than go against his beliefs and what he stood for.” — Don King, promoter of “Rumble in the Jungle” and “Thrilla in Manilla.”


“We are proud to call Ali not only a member of Team USA, but an Olympic champion. With unparalleled grit and determination, he left a legacy that will continue to inspire generations of Americans for years to come.” — Scott Blackmun, CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee.


“Hillary and I are saddened by the passing of Muhammad Ali. From the day he claimed the Olympic gold medal in 1960, boxing fans across the world knew they were seeing a blend of beauty and grace, speed and strength that may never be matched again. We watched him grow from the brash self-confidence of youth and success into a manhood full of religious and political convictions that led him to make tough choices and live with the consequences. Along the way we saw him courageous in the ring, inspiring to the young, compassionate to those in need, and strong and good-humored in bearing the burden of his own health challenges. I was honored to award him the Presidential Citizens Medal at the White House, to watch him light the Olympic flame, and to forge a friendship with a man who, through triumph and trials, became even greater than his legend. Our hearts go out to Lonnie, his children, and his entire family.” — President Bill Clinton.


“He was an athlete who touched the hearts of people across the globe, an athlete who was engaged beyond sport, an athlete who had the courage to give hope to so many suffering illness by lighting the Olympic cauldron and not hiding his own affliction. He was an athlete who fought for peace and tolerance – he was a true Olympian. Meeting him in person was an inspiration. He was a man who at the same time was so proud and yet so humble.” — IOC President Thomas Bach.


“Muhammad Ali was not just a champion in the ring – he was a champion of civil rights, and a role model for so many people.” — tweet by British Prime Minister David Cameron.


“Rip the greatest of all times in many different ways” — tweet by world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.


“He sacrificed the heart of his career and money and glory for his religious beliefs about a war he thought unnecessary and unjust. His memory and legacy lingers on until eternity. He scarified, the nation benefited. He was a champion in the ring, but, more than that, a hero beyond the ring. When champions win, people carry them off the field on their shoulders. When heroes win, people ride on their shoulders. We rode on Muhammad Ali’s shoulders.” — Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, and longtime friend of Ali.


“HBO is honored to have known Muhammad Ali as a fighter of beauty and a man of principle. We experienced the joy of working with him in support of initiatives he passionately cared about including, most importantly, his never-ending desire to teach tolerance and understanding of others to all people.” — HBO Sports.


“Muhammad Ali transcended sports with his outsized personality and dedication to civil rights and social justice. He was an inspirational presence at several major NBA events and was deeply admired by so many throughout the league. While we are deeply saddened by his loss, Muhammad Ali’s legacy lives on in every athlete who takes a stand for what he or she believes.” — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.


“Muhammad Ali has not only been a sports legend but also an outstanding man, whose values transcend his fantastic boxing career. We will always remember him also for his full commitment for the values of equity and brotherhood. We’re proud he started his unique sports career winning the Olympic gold medal in Rome 1960, a story that still emotions me very much. He’ll be forever ‘The Greatest’ to all of us.” — Rome 2024 bid President Luca di Montezemolo.


“Ali was not afraid of anything. He made up his own rules inside the ring and out, and he told the world that is how he acted even (if) they didn’t like it … He was suspended for political reasons, he was arrested, he lost, he once boxed 12 rounds with a broken jaw, but he always came back. We learned from him that victory is the ability to stay on your feet after everyone else has raised their hands and given up.” Yair Lapid, head of Israel’s centrist Yesh Atid party and a former amateur boxer.


Appendix B VIDEO Muhammad Ali Dead at 74https://youtu.be/G9JRWAkUn7E

Published on Jun 3, 2016 – Boxing legend Muhammad Ali has died. The 74-year-old had been increasingly frail after being hospitalized several times, most recently for respiratory issues.

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