Muhammad Ali was great NOT because of his amazing skills in the ring and NOT because of his charismatic personality. Muhammad Ali was the greatest because he was unapologetically Black. That’s why.
During the time when Muhammad Ali was the world’s best fighter & quite possibly the most famous person on the planet, Ali could have did what many Black people do when they get some money & fame…he could have said “Fuck y’all niggas. These white folks love me, they paying me…life is good!” But no he didn’t go that route. As Muhammad Ali was properly standing in his rightful place on top of the world at the height of his career, Ali decided to use his fame to bring more awareness to the plight of Black society. Muhammad Ali literally risked what he did for a living AND his freedom in order to make sure that his platform, which attracted millions of eyes & ears across the globe, could be used to amplify the voices of the ordinary everyday Black American dealing with racism & white supremacy. Muhammad Ali never forgot what life was like before he became a household name with fame & money pouring in. Muhammad Ali completely understood that his gift of fighting was to be used as a vessel larger than himself. His gift of fighting allowed him to rise to the top to allow for him to get maximum exposure on a global scale to where he could take the cries, pains, & struggles of Black society & unapologetically spit it in the faces of those upholding the system of racism & white supremacy. All the fame & money in the world did not distract him from his natural born obligation to the progression of Black society. That’s what made him the greatest.
Look at all of the rich Black people in America these days regardless of if they are athletes, entertainers, or whatever. How many of them are willing to sacrifice a paycheck & their freedom on behalf of Black society? How many? They may be great in their chosen profession but can you honestly ever compare them to the likes of Muhammad Ali? Can you? Hell no.
PS: For the “Ali transcended race” crowd. Keep dreaming. Nothing about Muhammad Ali’s life depicted “transcending race”. For crying out loud he changed his name from Cashious Clay to Muhammad Ali as a testament to his absolute disdain with how white society treated Black society. He basically dropped his “Toby” white name & demanded people call him “Kunta Kinte” is what it amounted to. Show me where he “transcended race” at. I’ll wait.