In recent months past, the world has lost two iconic legends of enormous stature. Although different in relation to the gifts and talents that they shared with the world, they were alike in more ways than you think. A few attributes that these men of great talent shared were that they are both great men of faith and vision - who changed the world and served as innovators in their respective crafts, inspiring millions across the globe. Both were also prodigy's at a young age. Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) at age of 12, was introduced to the sport of boxing by a neighborhood cop.
In 1960 he won the Gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics and then later at the age of 22, he secured the world heavyweight championship by defeating Sonny Liston in a stunning upset. This was only the beginning of what would become a historic career leading to 3-World Heavyweight championships not to mention becoming one of the most successful and celebrated public figures in history.
Prince Rogers Nelson displayed remarkable musical talent as early as the young age of 7 when he penned his first song. As a teenager he was successful in landing a groundbreaking recording deal. On his first project Prince is to have played all 27 instruments, in addition to producing, arranging, composing and performing all of the tracks. Prince earned some of the highest musical honors, including seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for the Purple Rain soundtrack and so much more.
Despite their young age, both Muhammad Ali and Prince did not let youth prevent them from pursuing their passion
Another major similarity between these two great men, is that they took a stance for what they believed in even though the personal and professional losses were great. It was Muhammad Ali who back in 1967 took a stance against the Vietnam War based on his religious convictions, by refusing to allow himself to be drafted to fight in a war he did not believe in. As a result he was stripped of his heavy weight titles, banished from boxing for 3 years as well as facing 5 years of imprisonment.
Just like Muhammad Ali, in 1993, Prince took a stance against his record label Warner Brothers and launched a 7 year battle when he protested against the lack of artistic control and ownership of his music. During this time Prince displayed the word "SLAVE" on the side of his face and even went so far as to change his name to an unpronounceable symbol to prove a point.
,They are also alike in that they both bear the scars of giving their all to their respective careers and having done so, suffered in later years as a result. Muhammad's battle with Parkinson's Disease was reportedly an outcome from all of the head blows that he endured throughout his boxing career. He struggle with the disease helped to shed new light and add a face of dignity for all those who suffer from this oftentimes debilitating disease. Something that I know on a personal level, having a father who has been living with the disease for a couple of years now. Prince had his own struggles as a result of years of performing in high heels which eventually led to hip replacement surgery and a suspected addiction to pain killers. Both made sacrifices all for the love of their loyal fans and their careers.
I can go on and on about just how similar these two "unapologetically proud" men were but what resonates the most in my mind about them is their willingness to take a stand for what they believe in and for what was right for others, regardless of the costs. Standing firm in your belief and doing what you feel is right, is not always the popular or easy thing to do. It certainly takes courage and integrity but more importantly it takes "character." With that said, I would like to leave you with this quote made by American Football Player and Coach John Wooden:
Rest in Peace Prince and Muhammad Ali. Thank you for your contributions towards making this world a better place. Most of all, thank you for being a shining example of what "COURAGE" really looks like.
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