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Impact of that man Ali


M. ELELA KING

Impact of that man Ali

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“FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY, sting like a bee.”

From my own personal perspective – not being a sports fan – these words echoed with inspiration. It was at a time when many of us believed “white was better”. I’d say we all had low self-esteem.

He has encouraged us that we “do matter”, long before the catchphrase became so modern. We could do, or become who we wanted to be.

“Black is beautiful” made many of us stare in the mirror, realising that stark reality, and with it, our pride in who we are just grew. Floating above the oppression; stinging (like a bee) – the consciousness of the white elite.

His words made many of us bold.

Living in Canada at that time, and being the only “fly in the milk” in a conservative bureaucracy, I began to fearlessly step up my game. I was given a supervisory position over six Whites in the steno pool.

No pay increase, of course, but I knew it would help my advancing career to look good on my resume.

Over the years, it did.

Back in the 1980s, I was living and working in Edmonton, Alberta. Imagine, almost miraculously, I had the wonderful, unforgettable, beautiful opportunity to meet and shake hands with my idol – Muhammad Ali, the Greatest!

As I was hanging out in the then new West Edmonton Mall on a Saturday morning, I saw this crowd moving in my direction, when someone yelled: “It’s Muhammad Ali.”

I wrapped my arms around the nearest rail to avoid being swept away with the crowd, when he actually reached over the milling crowd moving towards me, with outstretched hand. My knees buckled. As I regained my stance, I was able to reach up and shake his hand.

I remember seeing only three Blacks; myself, one of his bodyguards, and the Greatest. I was left weak in the knees and trembling.

Many (all Whites surprisingly who did not get near enough to him) then wanted to shake my hand. Imagine.

– M. ELELA KING

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