Muhammad Ali Courage

Muhammad Ali’s Claim about Courageousness and Risk

by Kalinda Rose Stevenson


He who is not courageous enough to take risks
will accomplish nothing in life.
Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali demonstrated the kind of courageousness and risks that are characteristic of the original definitions of courage. 
Muhammed Ali quote courageous

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.,January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer and activist. He is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 20th century. From early in his career, Ali was known as an inspiring, controversial, and polarizing figure both inside and outside the ring (Wikipedia).


What's especially significant about the Latin root of the word courage is that it meant "heart." In French, "courage" became the  metaphor for inner feelings and inner strength. English use of "courage" took on broader meanings such as "bravery." 

c. 1300, from Old French corage (12c., Modern French courage) "heart, innermost feelings; temper," from Vulgar Latin *coraticum (source of Italian coraggio, Spanish coraje), from Latin cor "heart" (from PIE root *kerd- "heart"). Words for "heart" also commonly are metaphors for inner strength. In Middle English, used broadly for "what is in one's mind or thoughts," hence "bravery," but also "wrath, pride, confidence, lustiness," or any sort of inclination. Replaced Old English ellen, which also meant "zeal, strength" (Online Etymology Dictionary).

Courage of the Heart

I must admit that I have never been a boxing fan. However, Muhammad Ali demonstrated the kind of "courage of the heart" defined by the original Latin and Old French meanings of courage in his passion and commitments. He lived his life with heart based on his innermost feelings, inner strength, and temper. He also had the characteristics of bravery, wrath, pride, confidence, and lustiness that are more characteristic of English-language definitions of courage. 

He also had the required discipline to accomplish his own goals. Consider these quotations cited on Wikipedia

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'
Don't count the days, make the days count.
"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" was well-known. However, I don't remember ever hearing either of the other two quotations. Both of these are powerful statements about courageousness, discipline, and the willingness to take risks.

Heart-Felt Courage

Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times, by Thomas Hauser
In the words of more than 200 of Ali’s family members, opponents, friends, world leaders, and others who have known him best, the real Muhammad Ali emerges: deeply religious, mercurial, generous, a showman in and out of the ring.

Thirty years after he burst onto the scene as a gold medal light-heavyweight at the Rome Olympics, Muhammad Ali is still a magical figure. His accomplishments in the ring were the stuff of legend — the two fights with Sonny Liston, when he proclaimed himself “The Greatest” and proved he was; the three epic wars against Joe Frazier; the stunning victory over George Foreman in Zaire; and the shocking loss and final win that made him the first man to win back the heavyweight crown twice, fourteen years after he had first claimed it.

Ali’s life has been played out as much on the front pages as on the sports pages. With brilliant immediacy and unprecedented candor, bestselling author Thomas Hauser recreates this extraordinary man.
[Original Post August 26, 2014]
What are your thoughts about courageousness and risk? Please leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.

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