"During my boxing career, you did not see the real Muhammad Ali. You just saw a little boxing. You saw only a part of me. After I retired from boxing my true work began. I have embarked on a journey of love."
So Muhammad Ali begins this spiritual memoir, his description of the values that have shaped and sustained him and that continue to guide his life. In The Soul of a Butterfly the great champion takes readers on a spiritual journey through the seasons of life, from childhood to the present, and shares the beliefs that have served him well.
After fighting some of the fiercest bouts in boxing history against Joe Frazier and George Foreman, today Muhammad Ali faces his most powerful foe -- outside the boxing ring. Like many people, he battles an illness that limits his physical abilities, but as he says, "I have gained more than I have lost....I have never had a more powerful voice than I have now." Ali reflects on his faith in God and the strength it gave him during his greatest challenge, when he lost the prime years of his boxing career because he would not compromise his beliefs. He describes how his study of true Islam has helped him accept the changes in his life and has brought him to a greater awareness of life's true purpose. As a United Nations "Messenger of Peace," he has traveled widely, and he describes his 2002 mission to Afghanistan to heighten public awareness of that country's desperate situation, as well as his more recent meeting with the Dalai Lama.
Ali's reflections on topics ranging from moral courage to belief in God to respect for those who differ from us will inspire and enlighten all who read them. Written with the assistance of his daughter Hana, The Soul of a Butterfly is a compassionate and heartfelt book that will provide comfort for our troubled times.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Muhammad Ali is the former three-time world heavyweight boxing champion. He and his wife, Lonnie, have established the Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, to preserve and share the legacy and ideals of Muhammad Ali. Hana Ali is a writer. She lives in Michigan, near her father and stepmother.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The Foundation of Life
I can remember, when I was just a kid in Louisville, Kentucky, my mother would wake my brother and me early every Sunday morning. She would come into our room, kiss us on the forehead, and say in a gentle whisper, "Wake up, tinky baby, wake up, Rudy, we're going to thank the Lord!"
My mother would sometimes call me "GG," too, because those were the first syllables I had spoken. After I won the Gold Gloves, I told her that from the very beginning I was trying to say "Golden Gloves." I thought my mother had a tiny little bird nose. I don't know why I thought that, because birds don't have noses, but from the moment I said it we all started calling her Mama Bird. After waking me and Rudy, Bird would cook us a nice breakfast. While we ate, she would iron our best clothes and lay them out on the bed. Then she would call us for a bath. After getting dressed, Rudy and I would go outside to sit on the front porch and shoot marbles before we headed off for Sunday school.
I can remember trying hard not to get dirty. I knew I looked handsome in my freshly ironed shirt and bow tie. When Bird walked out beside my father, Cassius Clay, or Cash, I remember looking up at them with pride, thinking how pretty she looked and how handsome he was with his thick black mustache. Cash would often say to me, "Most men envy me because they can't grow a mustache as long and thick as mine."
What he said has always stuck with me. I think that to him, his mustache was a source of pride. To this day, every so often, I let my own grow.
I had a strong foundation growing up; my parents were loving, affectionate people. Ever since I can remember, my father was always hugging and kissing us. He would say "give me those jaws" (his term for kissing our cheeks). Then he kissed us until our cheeks turned red. Cash always made me feel important. Although, at times my father had a quick temper, and my parents had disagreements, I had a happy home life and I knew that I was loved. My parents made me feel special. When it wasn't my father's affection, it was my mother's stories. Mama Bird was always telling me about the time I was born. She said that I was such a pretty baby, everyone thought I was a girl, and that from the moment they brought me home, Cash was "biting my jaws." My parents weren't perfect, but they each had a loving nature. My father was a painter. He made his living painting murals and signs. Almost every Baptist church around Louisville has his work in them. My father was very talented; I have one of his paintings hanging on my office wall, right above my desk. Cash used to tell people that he wasn't just a painter; he was an artist. Sometimes he would take me and Rudy to work with him. Cash would teach us how to mix the paint and lay out a sign. I could draw a little, but nothing special. It was Rudy that took after Cash. He is an artist, too. Cash used to say that if it weren't for the way things were then, a lot more people would have known what he could do. My father raised us well. He made sure we were surrounded by good people, taught us to always confront the things we feared, and to try to be the best at whatever we did. After delivering his advice, Cash would say, "These are the things my father said to me, and you don't learn them by accident, they have to be taught."
Cash was one of a kind; he was full of life and energy. He loved hugging, kissing, talking, and debating. He was my father and my friend. He was at my side when he could be and we had a lot more good times together than bad.
Sometimes, after school, when we finished our homework, Rudy and I would play outside with some of the other kids in the neighborhood. I used to ask Rudy to throw rocks at me to see if he could hit me. He thought that I was crazy, but no matter how many he threw, he could never hit me. I was too fast. I was running left, and right, ducking, dodging, and jumping out of the way. My brother and I had a lot of fun together, we never really got into fights. My mother used to tell me that when I was about four, whenever she would try to discipline Rudy, I would step in and say, "Don't you spank my baby." Rudy and I have always been close. He's my younger brother and I love him.
I wasn't much trouble as a child, but when I did cut up, Mama Bird just sat me in a corner and put an old bear head rug in the middle of the floor. I was so scared of it, I didn't move an inch. I thought the rug might jump up and bite me. My mother was a gentle lady. She always spoke in a tender voice and I never heard her say a bad thing about anyone. She didn't gossip or meddle in other people's business. She taught us that prejudice was wrong, and to always treat people with love and respect. My mother loved to cook, eat, make clothes, and be with her family. I loved her very much; there's never been anyone better to me in my whole life.
I learned a lot from my parents while I was growing up. I noticed how they remained dignified in the face of injustice. I saw how they responded to the people around them; I witnessed how my mother would forgive, not hate. And how Cash always held his head high and he worked hard. Growing up, we were poor in terms of money, but we were rich to have had so much love and pride in our household. We were raised with strong values and learned the importance of integrity and compassion. More important than the words, I learned by their example.
My mother was a Baptist and my father was a Methodist, but we always went to my mother's church. She taught us everything she believed was true about God. Cash used to say that he let Mama Bird raise us her way, because she was a good Baptist, and that a woman is better than a man, so we should follow our mother.
When I was in junior high school I applied for a job cleaning the blackboards and desks and doing odd jobs at Spalding College in Louisville. Sister James Ella gave me the job. I made a few dollars a week, working under the direction of Sister Ann. Sister James Ella was a sweet lady. She showed me how to clean shelves and sweep the floor. She passed away a few years ago, but I will always remember her. I had a good childhood. There were obstacles, and hardships, but I remained on the straight path. I kept my values in mind, and my faith remained strong. Although my religion would change later in my life, God was always in my heart.
My mother once told me that my confidence in myself made her believe in me. I thought that was funny, because it was her confidence in me that strengthened my belief in myself. I didn't realize it then, but from the very beginning, my parents were helping me build the foundation for my life.
Copyright © 2004 by Muhammad Ali Family Trust
When we arrived at the club, everyone took a seat and enjoyed the music. People were always shocked when they found out that I couldn't dance. But it was true; outside the ring my feet would lose their rhythm and grace, and they wouldn't move to the tune. Regardless, I have always enjoyed listening to good music and, every now and again, I would get up and dance anyway.
I didn't get a chance to meet Sugar Ray that night, but I remember the address of his club like I was reading it from the outside of the building now.
As we were leaving, I noticed a man standing on the corner of Seventh Avenue and 125th Street. He stood out because he was holding up a sign that said "buy black." I had never seen any Black man in Louisville do something as bold as that.
Before we left for Italy I tried again to meet Sugar Ray. I walked all the way up Fifth Avenue to 125th Street. I wanted to get his autograph and tell him that I was on my way to the Olympics to win a gold medal. I wanted to tell him that I admired him, and that I was going to be the heavyweight champion of the world by the time I was twenty-one. When I arrived at the club I waited outside all day for Sugar Ray to get there. I didn't mind waiting; I would have stood outside all week if I had to.
It was about ten o'clock when he finally drove up. I was so excited that for the first time in my life, I was speechless. When I pulled myself together, I walked up to Mr. Robinson and told him how far I had come just to see him and how long I had been waiting to get his autograph. I told him that I was going to be the heavyweight champion of the whole world, and that he was my hero.
When I think back, I realize he never really looked at me. He gave me a quick pat on the shoulder and told me, "Later, boy, I'm busy right now." I was crushed. I couldn't believe he brushed me aside like that, especially after I had waited all day for him to show up. I felt as if my feet were made of cement. I couldn't move. I just stood there as I watched Sugar Ray Robinson turn his back to me and walk away. Although I felt hurt and let down, I decided that I wouldn't let my disappointment get the best of me.
I was going to be different when I became a great boxer. I would be the kind of champion that fans could walk up to and talk to. I would shake their hands and sign every autograph, even sign some autographs in advance so that when I was in a hurry, I could still hand them out to people, assuring everyone went home happy.
I was going to go out of my way to show my fans how important they were, and how much I appreciated them.
At that moment, I vowed never to turn a fan away.
I didn't want anyone to feel the disappointment and hurt that I felt that night. I was always going to make time for the people who looked up to me; especially children. I knew that when I became a champion -- and I knew that I would -- I was going to remember what it was like before I made it big. I wasn't going to forget where I came from.
I was going to be my own kind of champion, a champ to all people everywhere in the world. And no matter how high I climbed up the ladder of success, I was going to view the world without looking down on anyone. And I wasn't going to forget the boy that I once was.
I had a golden vision, but before any of it could happen, I had to win at the Olympics.
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Simon & Schuster, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000002069
Book Description Simon & Schuster, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0743255690
Book Description Simon & Schuster, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110743255690
Book Description Simon & Schuster, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0743255690
Book Description Simon & Schuster, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Brand New!. Bookseller Inventory # VIB0743255690
Book Description Simon & Schuster. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0743255690 New Condition *** Right Off the Shelf | Ships within 2 Business Days ~~~ Customer Service Is Our Top Priority! - Thank you for LOOKING :-). Bookseller Inventory # 2BOOK1P75766
Book Description Simon & Schuster. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0743255690 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.0298682