One of the most overlooked things about Muhammad Ali (other than his racist quotes that get ignored a lot) was that his greatness and success as a boxer came from three sources.

The first of course being his skill, both mechanical and tactical. His style resembled the great Jack Johnson with perhaps a better KO punch.

The 2nd being his master of the psychology of the game. Often times he had his foe psyched out before or during a fight and that can make the difference in a sport where one must be disciplined. It’s worth noting that the reason why he won his final fight against Frazier is that Frazier quit first, if Frazier had decided to answer that final bell there was every possibility that Ali would not have been able to physically do so.

The 3rd was his promotional ability, both for himself and for individual fights. Both as Cassius Clay and Muhammad Ali he was the master of generating gate, and much of his brash talk was toward that end. While one can make the argument that culturally that had a bad long term impact on sportsmanship there is no doubt that it was effective and given the nature of the sport where one has a finite opportunity to make a big payday completely understandable.

In terms of how he changed the game, promoted the game and dominated the sport of Boxing I think a comparison to Babe Ruth is valid. The only difference being that Ruth is unquestionably the greatest baseball player of all time because he was a Hall of Fame Quality Pitcher as well as one of the most feared hitters in History. With Ali you can make the case for Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Larry Holmes or Mike Tyson as his equal or better in his division, (and if you consider all divisions the discussion expands) but frankly the difference would be so small as to be meaningless.

No matter what your opinion of Ali the Man, Ali the Boxer was extraordinary athlete who came at exactly the right time (The beginning of the Television Age) where all of his skills were able to shine.

That’s Babe Ruth all over

MuhammadAliby baldilocks

Before the death of the legendary Muhammad Ali—a Muslim–I said a prayer for him–that God the Father might draw him to Jesus the Christ—and I said so on Social Media. I expected one of my few Muslim friends to take offense to this, but it is many professed Christians who seem have more of a problem with my prayer.

I wonder what Bible they’re reading—a rhetorical musing because I know that reading and comprehending are two separate concepts.

Now let’s get this straight; I have no idea whether God answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to my prayer and I’m okay with not knowing. What gets me is how many Christians are saying that no deathbed conversions exist. I mean, how would anyone know one way or the other? And some are ridiculing the notion that we Christians should pray for the conversion of Ali’s Muslim family!

And then there’s that whole chronicle about the thief on the cross—the one who, through an act of faith, got a last minute get-out-of-Hell free card—a death “bed” conversion. When I mentioned it, someone actually told me that this was a one-time event—that it would never happen again!

Seriously, why believe in a god who can’t see what’s in your heart, who doesn’t know your heart infinitely better than you know it yourself, and who can’t have mercy on even the worst of us in seconds?

Why believe in a God who can’t make a day last longer than the standard 24 hours?

Why believe in a God who can’t take a murderer of Christians and turn him into Christ’s most convincing earthly apologist?

I’m unfamiliar with this deity in which many Christians say they believe—this god whose name is not El Shaddai.

I’m also unfamiliar with a deity who does not want us to pray for living unbelievers—like most of Ali’s family and a few members of my own.

I’m told that God is not willing that any should perish and that followers of Christ can move mountains with faith-fueled prayer, but some of my naysayers seem to be ignoring those words.

Whoever this limited deity is in whom some Christians say they believe, I don’t think he’s worth worshiping. As for Ali, he knows the truth now, and it’s likely that he’s full of regret. Not certain, but likely.

Don’t let that be your fate, Christians; the God I do know says that we will give an account for everything we say and do. I have enough stuff to account for and I’m sure that you do, too. Friendly advice: limit the list.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>baldilocks