Generation Ali – The Latest Muhammad Ali Cultural Shuffle

As a boxer Muhammad Ali made a name with showmanship moves like the much copied “Ali shuffle”. His latest endeavor, Generation Ali, is another flashy move intent on confounding Muhammad’s adversary, time itself.

Muhammad Ali has taken on all comers in his lifetime. About the only thing ominous foe he has not publicly or privately battled is an alligator or crocodile, though unbeknownst to me he may have even defeated both of those. Sonny Liston to George Foreman, war, hate, injustice, poverty, bigotry, hunger, even Parkenson’s, and Ali still keeps going.

Whether it’s an urban legend of Ali getting out of the car to offer a hand to a homeless man, or the champ taking off and flying to some remote African destination to help the hopeless and hungry, can anyone be surprised to hear Muhammad Ali beat anything? Now he is building a bridge across time. Generation Ali is more than just another youth outreach program, it is Ali himself extended across generations. Ali is fighting time itself.

I am a bit surprised that no one has seen this. Look at Muhammad Ali like this, if you can. I doubt seriously if anyone can name a more indelible figure of worldwide culture than Ali. If we look at him as what he really is, an emissary for all humanity, the idea of heroic destiny I propose does not seem so unrealistic. Generation Ali is what will go on when the physical presence of Muhammad Ali has left us. Morbid as this may sound, it is in fact a bright aspect I am sure Ali himself knows all too well. His spirituality has always been about the lighter side. A new generation imbued with the idea of great possibility, this may be Muhammad Ali’s most memorable legacy.

I spoke with Donald Lessere, The Ali Center’s CEO, over the phone yesterday. Like everyone I have encountered in Ali’s organization, Lessere is a kind, intelligent, frank, and very upbeat individual. Discussing Generation Ali and Muhammad’s vision of the youth of the world tackling old and new problems, we briefly touched on issues such as injustice, worldwide human rights, world poverty and hunger, a few of the fights Ali has always weighed in for. I am sure too that Lessere might agree (and here is the KO punch), the same spirit that did the impossible, still does the impossible, will never die.
The real impact of a person like Ali can often be felt in hearing what former adversaries have to say. In the video below you will hear Ali foes speak “for” Ali. Particularly poignant is the segment with the now departed Joe Frazier. Ironic that he would wish for Ali a life he would soon leave.

Without retelling Ali stories time and again, with no fanfare save some memorable imagery, this is what Ali is calling on the youth of the world to do. Ensure that the best humanity has to offer, that the same spirit that overcame everything, lives in our hearts, forever.
Generation Ali just launched their first initiative to engage people via the web. A friend of mine infinitely knowledgeable in all things Internet, offered this crisp and all too telling headline for Generation Ali.
“The world’s greatest voice, silenced, speaks now through Generation Ali and the social web, he speaks through all of us.”
I guess this piece is a sort of “cultural service announcement”, don’t let The Greatest down. In this way, joining Generation Ali is a sort of obligation – to ourselves. Think about it.

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