January 17th marked what would have been the 72nd birthday of one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, Muhammad Ali. Many people paid tribute to him on social media by sharing boxing clips, photos, and articles to celebrate his memory. Just recently, Apple ran an ad promoting the new iPhone by having Ali’s voice over selfies of different people. After watching the commercial, I must admit that I felt slightly uneasy about the ad. Please be aware, I am in no way being judgemental by the way apple is marketing their product. I have a Bachelors in Marketing, so I truly understand that companies are always looking to stand out when it comes to putting their products out to the general public. I have an iPod and I cannot tell you how much I would be devastated if I lost all of my songs. My uneasiness comes from Apple not really understanding the true legacy of Ali.
For anyone who has not had a chance to view the commercial, I encourage you to go to Youtube and view it. Better yet, I will attach it below. Ali is in rare form discussing to a crowd of people on how great he is. The message of the commercial seems to be that not only should we realize our potential, but we should also embrace our narcissism by taking endless amounts of selfies(which as you know, will most likely end up on social media where a person’s worth has now been reduced to how many likes they receive). What Apple failed to realize is that Ali’s speech has more meaning to just embracing narcissism. Ali boasting about his greatness to a crowd of people in the 1960’s was revolutionary at a time when black men suffered deplorable treatment because of the color of their skin. To hear a black pro athlete boast about his greatness at a time where most pro athletes were required to be subdued was absolutely shocking. The only athlete who can even compare to having that kind of public braggadocious attitude was former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson. In today’s day in age, no one would blink an eye if a black professional athlete were to boast how great he is. Ali boasting about his good looks was not only shocking, it was downright appalling to many people who believed that black people were an inferior race. It was that confidence, self belief, and of course his amazing boxing ability that turned him into a global icon.
If anyone reading this feels that I have a bias towards Muhammad Ali, I must tell you that you are 100% correct. As a boxing fan, I can go on forever talking about his skill, courage, speed, and heart when he stepped in that boxing ring. The character this man showed in fights against Liston, Frazier, Norton, and Foreman is something that only hardcore boxing fans can truly appreciate. As a black man, I pay homage to him for what he represents. Every time I walk down the street with my head up high, telling myself I can be great, is because of him. Ali boasting about being great was not for me to be a conceited individual who should take pictures to show people how much I love myself. His boasting was to ensure me that no matter what injustice I may face, never let that deter me from chasing greatness.