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A Reflective Essay on Muhammad Ali – The Humanitarian

Muhammad Ali lived his life with passion and integrity on a scale rarely witnessed, and in the wake of his passion, culture was truly transformed. Unwilling to be bowed by prejudice, hate, or greed, Ali set and rose to his own standards which eclipsed the status quo. The value of his example transcends the generosity of his actions in life, remaining a message of love and brotherhood which remains after his recent death. The athlete, the man of spirit, the pacifist, and the humanitarian, Muhammad Ali was a great man. Ultius is proud to present the following refective as both a tribute to Muhammad Ali and as an example of the comprehensive writing services one should expect to receive should they buy a sample reflective essay.

Muhammad Ali’s Humanitarian Nature

Muhammad Ali’s humanitarian efforts were a result of the struggles he had in his life, growing up a black man in racist America. Although forced to live like a second class citizen, Ali never thought of himself as one, and was able to channel his frustration into advocating for social justice. He did this first and foremost through living his belief no matter the costs. When he refused the draft during the Vietnam War, he cited, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong…No Viet Cong ever called me n—-r” (as cited in Schapiro). As a result of this passion for pacifism he was arrested, found guilty of draft evasion, and had his boxing license suspended during the height of his prowess. However, “Ali’s belligerent stance was said to have inspired Martin Luther King Jr. to publicly voice his opposition to the war” (Schapiro). This is one example of the power of living one’s values. Despite some labeling this power as a narcissistic personality disorder thet occurs in all great athletes, Ali continued speaking out about his belief in pacifism, and empowering others to do the same. These actions helped turn the tide of public opinion in America, and after four years, the Supreme Court would overturn the draft evasion conviction. Of his passion for peace, Ali said,

I would like to say to you who think I have lost so much, I have gained everything. I have peace of heart; I have a clear, free conscience. And I’m proud. I wake up happy. I go to bed happy. And if I go to jail, I’ll go to jail happy. Boys go to war and die for what they believe in, so I don’t see why the world is so shook up over me suffering for what I believe. (Hall and Kenning)

The people who objected to this stance objected to self-worth which enabled the bravery to stand up to the collective tide of the military industrial complex, and it’s faux veil of “spreading democracy.” The fact that the person to do so was also black further inflamed the tyranny of the majority who desire to co-opt minds through oppression and suppression. It was his self-worth which added the essential element to everything he did. Perhaps his strength of spirit shown through his skin, and Norman Mailer wrote, “upon seeing Ali, ‘women draw an audible breath. Men look down. They are reminded again of their lack of worth’” (Hall and Kenning). After all, it is the strength of character which is what is most attractive in a person, and Ali was a keen example of this.

Muhammad Ali’s 6 Keys to Success

This vindication of pacifism helped shaped the national perception of Ali, who was not content with his success as an athlete, but desired to use that platform to advocate for many underprivileged. One personal platform he cultivated in support of this is his six keys to success:

  1. Confidence: Belief in oneself, one’s abilities, and one’s future.
  2. Conviction: A firm belief that gives one the courage to stand behind that belief, despite pressure to do otherwise.
  3. Dedication: The act of devoting all of one’s energy, effort, and abilities to a certain task.
  4. Giving: To present voluntarily without expecting something in return.
  5. Respect: Esteem for, or a sense of the worth or excellence of, oneself and others.
  6. Spirituality: A sense of awe, reverence, and inner peace inspired by a connection to all of creation and/or that which is greater than oneself. (“Muhammad Ali: Humanitarian Awards.”)

Among numerous Muhammad Ali quotes, Ali famously called himself “The Greatest” and indeed he lived up to this title (Hall and Kenning). It is, however, important to keep in mind that he thought this way before any of his success, and that his success was the fruit from the cultivation of his self-worth which did not require vindication. This is a key aspect of the message of his life, that believing in oneself is the means and the goal. An insidious aspect of racism which is still prevalent today is the self-hatred which is cultivated through racism. To read more on racism in America, click here. Thomas Hauser, Ali biographer, emphasized this power in a 2005 interview as:

Ali in the 1960s stood for two very important things. No. 1, every time he looked in the mirror and said, “I’m so pretty,” what he was really saying before it became fashionable was, “Black is beautiful.” And this was a time when a lot of black people thought it was better to be white. (Hall and Kenning)

This has not changed much today, but gone underground, less overt, and psychological (Cooper, Billante, and Hadad). Ali’s message of self-love and empowerment is still as valuable and necessary as it ever was.

Muhammad Ali Using Strength for Peace

In a sense it is ironic that Ali was a boxer and a pacifist, but the fiery passion he had found a safe outlet in the sport. Ali began training as a boxer after his beloved red and white Schwinn bike was stolen when he was twelve. Irate over the injustice,

He vowed to whip the thief if he ever found him. He did find a policeman, Joe Martin, who taught boxing at the Columbia Gym in the Service Club basement. Martin said Cassius should learn to fight before he did any whipping. (Hall and Kenning)

Another highlight of Ali’s life that we at Ultius very much admire is that after his boxing career was over, he was often called on by officials to be a bridge builder for peace. Ali’s example is much needed by the younger generation of athletes, as Muhammad Ali’s daughter, Hana Ali, wrote, “Today, we are in greater need of heroes like my father, especially in a sports culture where athletes seem to be chasing fame merely for the pleasure of making money or breaking records” (Clark). Authentic values transcend the love of money, and to be a humanitarian is to see value beyond the dollar.

With this passion always at the forefront of his career, Ali continuously participated in world events. This was the case, “In December 1990, he helped secure the release of 14 American hostages held in Iraq during the run-up to the Gulf War. Ali had gone to Iraq at the invitation of that nation’s ruler, Saddam Hussein” (Hall and Kenning). He continued to funnel his passion for justice into many acts of humanitarianism:

  • Ali gallivanted around the globe throughout his later life — preaching peace, delivering food and medical supplies to impoverished nations and even charming dictators.1
  • Ali went on to deliver to Cuba, in two separate trips, nearly $2 million in medical aid.2
  • He journeyed to South Africa to meet with Nelson Mandela upon the former leader’s release from prison.3
  • He embarked on goodwill missions in the most forbidding countries in the world, including Afghanistan and North Korea.4
  • “More than just the three-time heavyweight champion. I wanted to use my fame, and this face that everyone knows so well, to help uplift and inspire people around the world.”5
  • “There was a time when Ali was one of the most hated people in America. And yet Ali changed and grew and came to embrace more about what this country stood for, and this country in turn changed some and learned to embrace things in Ali.”6
  • The United Nations named Ali a Messenger of Peace in 1998 because of his work with developing nations.7

Religious Tolerance and Muhammad Ali

A major theme of Ali’s life was religious tolerance. As a dedicated Muslim and facing the difficulties of a Muslim living in the US, he often met with leaders of other faiths never to convert, but to celebrate the power of belief. When interviewed about 9/11 Ali commented “I think the people of our religion should be tolerant and understand people believe different things. It’s a shame that this (tolerance) didn’t happen before” (Clark). As a result of this tradition of humanitarianism, the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards go on every year to draw attention to and celebrate those who stem the tides of injustice with their brave acts (“Muhammad Ali: Humanitarian Awards.”).

Religious tolerance does not appear to have grown much in the past few decades, as acts of terrorism and hate continue to flourish. A symbol of tolerance and peace,

Mr. Ali first came to the UN in 1978 to address the UN Special Committee against Apartheid with a message of peace and spirituality…He brings people from all races together by preaching “healing” to everyone irrespective of race, religion or age. Over the years Mr. Ali has been a relentless advocate for people in need and a significant humanitarian actor in the developing world, supporting relief and development initiatives and hand-delivering food and medical supplies to hospitals, street children and orphanages in Africa and Asia. (Clark)

Religious tolerance is part and parcel with pacifism and moving into a state of mind in which racism cannot exist. Unfortunately, Ali suffered from debilitating Parkinson’s disease, diagnosed when he was 42. There was controversy over how he came to contract it, as it usually strikes people much older, and the doctor who diagnosed him commented, “I thought some of the symptoms were too early for classic Parkinson’s…This was most likely going to be due to some trauma, multiple traumas to the head” (Lapook). While the disease made it difficult for him to be as mobile, he did not let it stop him from traveling the world on his humanitarian missions. In keeping with his passion, Ali used the disease to connect with others, raising over $100 million for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center (Lapook).

It was the nature of his character never to allow the circumstances of his life to define him, but for him to define any suffering through the prism of his character. Ali participated in the inauguration of President Barak Obama, and “Soon after the inauguration, Ali received the President’s Award from the NAACP for his public service efforts” ( “Muhammad Ali.”). The last few years had been difficult for Ali, as he suffered increasing debilitation from Parkinson’s and complications. He prepared for his funeral, citing he wanted it to reflect his life, “to be ‘inclusive of everyone, where we give as many people an opportunity that want to pay their respects to me’” ( “Muhammad Ali.”). His final wishes were acted out with respect due to his example and the Muhammad Ali funeral took place amidst what seemed like the “season” for celebrity deaths in early 2016.

Muhammad Ali Reflective Essay Conclusion

Muhammad Ali lived a life of brightness and of suffering, like so many people, but unlike so many he transcended his suffering, placing an emphasis on the beauty of life every day. His dedication to love and peace will remain an universal, sterling example of personal capacity. Please remember that purchased essay samples like these need to be properly cited if used as a reference.


  1. Schapiro, Rich.
  2. Schapiro, Rich.
  3. Schapiro, Rich.
  4. Schapiro, Rich.
  5. Schapiro, Rich.
  6. Hall and Kenning.
  7. Clark.

Works Cited

Clark, Peter Allen. “Muhammad Ali had a lifelong mission to help those in need.” The Associated Press, 4 Jun. 2016. Retrieved from:

Cooper, Anderson, Jill Billante, and Chuck Hadad. “Study: White and black children biased toward lighter skin.” CNN, 14 May 2010. Retrieved from:

Hall, C. Ray, and Chris Kenning. “Muhammad Ali: A symbol of 1960s conflict & hope.” The Courier Journal, 5 June 2016. Retrieved from:

Lapook, Jonathan. “Doctor who diagnosed Muhammad Ali with Parkinson’s speaks out.” CBS, 10 Jun. 2016. Retrieved from:

“Muhammad Ali.” Bio, n.d. Retrieved from:

“Muhammad Ali: Humanitarian Awards.” Ali Center., 2016. Retrieved from:

Schapiro, Rich. “Muhammad Ali dead at 74: The Greatest transcended boxing as a humanitarian, pacifist.” New York Daily News, 5 June 2016. Retrieved from:

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