“Success is not achieved by winning all the time. Real success comes when we rise after we fall. I am grateful for the victories, but I am especially grateful for the losses, because they only made me work harder.” [3, pg.119]
Muhammad Ali felt like he had to prove that he was indeed the greatest boxer by winning a rematch against both Norton and Frazier who were his first and second defeats as a professional boxer. He accepted a rematch with Ken Norton, which he won in the second round. On January 28, 1974, he faced Joe Frazier, who had just lost his title to George Foreman. This time Ali won in the thirteenth round. He was now ready to face George Foreman and win the Heavy weight title for the second time in his career.
No one expected Ali to win, many figured he would be seriously injured or killed by Foreman. Ali was 32 years old and had lost the speed and reflexes of his youth. George Foreman was known as one of the hardest punchers in heavy weight history and had knocked out both Joe Frazier and Ken Norton in the second round.
Ali considered himself to be a scientific fighter, and like a scientist, he looked at all the facts and carefully examined the evidence. Ali writes, “I watched tapes of Foreman’s fights. I studied his strengths and weaknesses and made myself aware of how he fought. I also considered my own strengths and weaknesses and then I thought about how I could use this knowledge to my advantage during the fight.” [3. pgs.125-126]
Think about the situation Ali was in. In his first match against Frazier, the fight went the full fifteen rounds and he lost by a unanimous decision. The fight was so fierce that Frazier was hospitalized for over six weeks, and Ali said, “it took some time before the swelling in my Jaw went down and the soreness in my bones went away.” [2. Pg. 361] Because of this fight Ali decided that a major lifestyle change was in order.
Ali’s second career loss was against Ken Norton, who not only won the fight, but broke Ali’s jaw.
However, Foreman had knocked out both Frazier and Norton early in their fights. While Ali had avenged himself by beating both Frazier and Norton in the rematch, he knew that “Foreman was just too big and strong for me to take him on toe-to-toe,” [3. pg. 126] Reflecting upon his own wins Ali saw that, from Sonny Liston on, he won by wearing his opponents down; dancing and staying just out of their reach. Because Foreman was a massive man and was training to take this advantage away from him, Ali knew he would have to try a new strategy.
Like Ali, we need to assess our strengths and weaknesses, where we have been, what worked, what no longer works, where we are now, and where we hope to go. One of my strengths is a desire to learn about this disease and what I can do to help myself live longer. When I found out I had prostate cancer several good friends were pushing me to get surgery as soon as possible. Instead, I decided to investigate through You Tube, on-line organizations, books, articles, and conferring with my Urologist. Once I felt like I understood the options, I decided about how I was going to proceed.
One of the biggest weaknesses I have is not sticking with the program. Last July and August I took the BIG & LOUD therapy sessions. One thing that the therapists were good at was equipping and empowering me to take what was taught home. I fully understood that the last day of therapy was not a graduation. Rather they sent me out with a mission, to continue the exercises every day until they became a part of me. At first there was NO PROBLEM, I was going to be an example of how you do this program. But one thing led to another and soon I was only doing the LOUD exercises. Then winter came and we went to Florida and soon I was only doing the loud exercises occasionally.
When we returned home in March, and I did a funeral service for my cousin, I realized that I had lost everything that I had gained from the Big & Loud therapy sessions. I let it slip away, which meant that once again, Parkinson’s was taking over my life. I needed a new strategy because my old habits were leading me down the wrong path.
Muhammad Ali assures us that we must actually DO what we know to do or we cannot win. He said, “…the will must be stronger than the skill.” [3. Pg.129]
Ali’s new strategy
Muhammad Ali was developing a boxing strategy he called, Rope a Dope. Instead of fighting, he would take a defensive stance. Knowing he couldn’t out fight Foreman; he decided the only way he could win, was to tire him out using this new strategy.
Everything was ready and Ali flew to Kinshasa the capitol of Zaire for The Rumble in the Jungle. The evening of the fight the Stadium was packed and almost all the people were shouting, “Ali, bomaye!” which means “Ali, kill him!”
He writes, “in the second half of the first round George is executing what he’s practiced for months. He’s cutting the ring off and forcing me to take six steps to his two, and he’s doing it better than anyone I’ve been up against. I’ve had fighters chase me – most fighters chase me – but I make them match me step for step. George is the first to consistently cut me off.” [2. pg. 405]
“CLANG! ROUND TWO.
“I move to the center, jab and dance and jab. But I know now that my danger is not in the corner or on the ropes but in dancing six steps to George’s three.” [2. Pg. 406] What do you do when everything you’ve planned isn’t working? Some people double down, try harder, believing that eventually things will get better. Ali decides to put his new strategy into practice. “For the first time in all my fights, I decide not to wait until I’m tired to play the ropes, but to take the corners while I’m fresh and strong, to gamble on the rope all the way.” [2. Pg. 406]
Ali’s cornermen are screaming, fear in their voice, “DANCE! CHAMP DANCE! ALI, MOVE OUT OF THE ROPES!!” “But they don’t know what I know. I stay on the ropes. Then near the end of the round I rise up and shoot quick, straight jabs and right crosses into Georges’ head, POW! POW! POW!” [2. Pg. 407]
This type of fighting goes on for six more rounds. Then in the eighth round Ali delivers a knockout punch and reclaims the World Heavyweight Championship.
Ali was victorious because he correctly assessed his strengths and weaknesses and developed a way to tire Foreman out before delivering the knockout punch.
My plan for getting back to where I was when I had just finished the Big & Loud therapy sessions is to have this become a daily scheduled event. I have purchased boxing equipment and will set up an exercise/boxing room in mu garage. Below are a few pictures that show its development.
Healthy sense of Humor/Laughter
I was pleasantly surprised that experts agree that a healthy sense of humor and laughing often and loudly are healing and will help us overcome Parkinson’s. I enjoy laughing and making others laugh and from reading Ali’s autobiographies he had a wonderful sense of humor.
Facing almost impossible odds of winning, Ali, demonstrated his sense of humor, telling reporters, “I’ve done something new for this fight. I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightening, thrown thunder in jail; only last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick; I’m so mean I make medicine sick” [1. Fn.]
Now that I know how important laughter is, I plan on setting time aside to laugh often, and loudly.
First. I will make fun of myself. I will have an unlimited source of idiotic things to laugh about.
Second. With You Tube, and streaming services, I can watch anything I want to anytime I want to. Old favorites: I love Lucy, Animaniacs, Looney Tunes, Young Frankenstein, What’s up Doc? etc. New Favorites: Ghosts, Young Sheldon, Schitt’s Creek, Curb your Enthusiasm, etc. Satellite Radio has a number of stations dedicated to comedians which I listen to when I drive.
Finally, I love to read and plan on reading blogs, books, magazines, etc.
Life is pretty absurd. If you cannot find something to laugh about you aren’t paying attention. (I realize that Life is also tragic, majestic, holy, etc. Where you focus will make a difference. There’s a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time for anger and an appropriate time for every emotion. Lately my dominant emotion has been Anger. I would rather laugh than curse. )
This week’s humorous story:
Once when Muhammad Ali was flying on a commercial jet the flight attendant noticed his seat belt wasn’t fastened. She said, “Please fasten your seat belt.” Ali responded, “Superman doesn’t need a seat belt. She leaned over and said, “Honey, Superman doesn’t need an airplane either.” [3 pg.83]
- Muhammad Ali, WikipediA, htts://en.m.wikipedia.org
- MUHAMMAD ALI the GREATEST, My Own Story, by, Muhammad Ali with Richard Durham. C. 1975, Graymalkin Media Pub.
- The Soul of a Butterfly, Reflections on Life’s Journey, by Muhammad Ali and Hana Yasmeen Ali, c. 2004 by Muhammad Ali Family Trust. Pub. Simon & Shuster, N.Y.
- By Abraham N, Lieberman, M.D. and Frank L. Williams, pg.76
- All You Can Do is Do What You Must, Living with Parkinsons Disease, by Ira Fried, c. 2017