In 2016, we lost a lot of great people when they took their final journey to The Land of Plenty!
One loss that had a tremendous impact on me came when we lost the GOAT!
The GOAT was the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali!
Ali was a tremendous prize fighter. Ali is regarded as one of the leading heavyweight boxers of the 20th century. He remains the only three-time lineal heavyweight champion, having won the title in 1964, 1974 and 1978. Between February 25, 1964, and September 19, 1964, Ali reigned as the undisputed heavyweight champion. He is the only boxer to be named The Ring magazine fighter of the year six times. He was ranked as the greatest athlete of the 20th century. He kinda gave himself the nickname “The Greatest” boxer of all time but I’m old enough to know about Jack Johnson who whipped everybody he wanted to and Sugar Ray Robinson who had a professional record of 128–1–2 with 84 knockouts. From 1943 to 1951 Robinson went on a 91 fight unbeaten streak, the third longest in professional boxing history. So, Ali’s boxing claim could be disputed.
However, as a great man, humanitarian, activist, philanthropist and servant his departure was way too soon.
But this column is not about boxing. It is about great men and women that, like Ali, sacrificed their reputation, their livelihood, their career and even their lives to do what God put them on earth to do.
There were many great people like Ali before Ali and many great people will come afterwards.
It seems in every scenario, though, the great die too young.
Nat Turner died too young. Martin Luther King died too young. Harriett Tubman, Ida Wells, Fannie Lou Hammer, Rosa Parks and other great women died too young. Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey died too young!
They died too young because they fought young, spoke out young and stood up at a young age!
Nobody is born great. To be great you have to do great things. It takes time to establish a life of greatness. It takes time, effort and desire to do great things.
Our community and our world needs more great citizens. We need more people to fight the fight. We need more great messengers. We need more people that are strong, brave, skilled, talented and socially conscious like our forefathers and our ancestors were.
Don’t teach your children how to bow down, how to back up and why they should fear their enemies, their exploiters and their oppressors.
Teach your youth that it is great to be great!
Whatever your children are great at as a youth, encourage them to follow their dreams and their destiny. They can be great boxers, singers, dancers, writers, teachers, preachers, scientists, entrepreneurs, soldiers, swimmers or anything they want to be great at but they must be dedicated and they must work long and hard.
People only like the easy and the good things about great men and women but the truth of the matter is many great people were whipped and beaten, many great people were jailed and incarcerated, many great people were hated and criticized at some time in their lives and careers but they continued to do what they had to do to become great!
Ali, Prince and many other greats left us in 2016 but there are still greats among us because we all have greatness in us.
Will you be the one to be great today and every day? I hope you will!
By: Lucius Gantt