As I began part 2 of the 2-part HBO documentary “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali”, I already had learned some great lessons from the early part of Ali’s life and career. But it was the years after his comeback, after being not allowed to box for three years because he took a stand for what he believed in, that revealed some of the greatest lessons that ultimately raised Ali to mythic status.
LESSON 4: ONLY IN GREAT ADVERSITY WILL YOU ACHIEVE YOUR OWN GREATNESS
Muhammad Ali didn’t fully achieve mythical status until after Joe Frazier defeated him in their first fight.
After his loss to Frazier, Ali achieved the following in the ring:
- Won 10 fights in a row after.
- Was beat by Ken Norton after Norton broke his jaw in the 11th He fought the entire 12th round with a broken jaw.
- Avenged the fight with Norton six months later.
- Avenged his loss to Joe Frazier in 1974.
- Beat the superman George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle”, a fight no one in the media thought he could win. Ali withheld a brutal beating by the superhuman Foreman, outlasted him and eventually knocked him out in the 8th
- Beat Joe Frazier a third time in the “Thrilla in Manilla”, where both fighters showed an amount of heart that seemed impossible to the average man.
The reason why we view Ali as the Greatest, and the biggest reason why he is the most beloved athlete of
all time is because of the adversity he fought and overcame.
TAKE THIS WITH YOU: Until you have faced great adversity you will not achieve your greatest potential.