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Great Black Men: Pele & Muhammad Ali
By: Ehimwenma E. Aimiuwu
Dec 2007

 

  As a child growing up in Nigeria in the 1970s, there were not many Black figures to look up to on TV except Pele and Muhammad Ali.  They both thought us to be great in whatever we did, be loyal to your community, and always do the work of God.

Pele was my first love.  He was the first Black character I saw on TV that was at the center of the screen, always smiling, and seemed to be loved by all.  He was so good that he went to play at the worldís biggest event, the World Cup, at the tender age of 17 and helped Brazil to win three out of four World Cup tournaments.  I believe that he is still the only player in the world that has officially scored over 1000 career goals in soccer.  He was so great that there was a time he was given a red card and sent out of the game, the game officials had to change the referee and put Pele back in the game in order to appease the dissatisfaction of the spectators.  The day he scored his 1000th goal, his opponentís supporters turned against their home team during the game for almost preventing them from seeing the historic moment.  Many have criticized him for not speaking up against Brazilís White government of the time, marrying White women, not going to Europe to play professional soccer, and making bad business deals.  In all this, he became the sports minister, has a mega-marketing business for soccer, has remain true to Brazil, and he is still the number figure for the most popular game, which is greater than the followers of the three major world religions.

Muhammad Ali was not just a three-time heavyweight champion of the world, but he was a boxer that lost only 5 fights and won 92% of his fights (56 out of 61).  That is a perfect ďAĒ.  The world does not just celebrate him for being a good sportsman, but like Jesus, John the Baptist, Mohammed, and Confucius, he is celebrated for doing Godís work.  He is the second most written about character in history next to Jesus because he spoke up for fairness and justice for all of Godís humanity.  He refused to go to war and kill Vietnamese.  He claimed that the Vietnamese was not a threat to humanity but the United Statesí racism was.  He understood that discrimination was the Devilís attack on humanity and war could never resolve it.  It was because of his stance with Godís purpose for life and happiness that the United States government put him in jail, stripped him of his title, and seized his license to fight in the United States.  He overcame all these obstacles and returns to claim his title.  He has been out of the ring for almost three decades, but the world still calls him the champ (champion) and the greatest.  In the 1996 Olympics in the United States, he was chosen to light the Olympic torch to begin the global games.  I guess it is true that when you do Godís work and stand for justice for all, even your enemies will eventually surround you to celebrate you.

 

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