The other day as I drove to work, the radio host was reflecting on the passing of Muhammed Ali.
In a 1975 interview with Playboy magazine, Muhammad Ali, then 33 years old, was asked if he thought he’d be remembered as the greatest boxer of all time. Ali was at the tail end of his career at the time and the interview was done in the lead-up to his third and final bout with Joe Frazier known as the “Thrilla in Manila.” Ali’s answer to the question, much like the life he lived, was far more expansive than a mere reflection on his place in boxing history:
“I’ll tell you how I’d like to be remembered: as a black man who won the heavyweight title and who was humorous and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him and who helped as many of his people as he could – financially, and also in their fight for freedom, justice and equality. As a man who wouldn’t hurt his people’s dignity by doing anything that would embarrass them. As a man who tried to unite his people through the faith of Islam that he found when he listened to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. And if all that’s asking too much, then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxing champion who became a preacher and a champion of his people. And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was.”
After I heard this quote, it stuck with me all day long and I began to ponder the question:
What would you like to be remembered by?
Listed below are the comments from people that I encountered:
Katie worked as a Cashier at Whole Foods Markets in Sherman Oaks:
A nice caring person.
Women in parking lot:
Being a good person
Spouse, David Hyman:
I want to be remembered for my community activism.
Customer Service Clerk at Checks.com
Being a Christian living a life according to God
Brad Koepenick Founder, I Lead schools, Van Nuys:
Being surrounded by beautiful people who are totally given to making incredible changes in the world just as you are.
Jonathan Arnaud, Real Estate Agent, and Artist:
I will be famous when I’m dead. I came to Los Angeles to be an actor and got my first SAG Card from John Houston, told he had three months. Most of my stuff was cut on the editor’s floor. I later created the first kit to prevent aids. Many of my friend just shrugged it off and it lead to my burying almost 3,000 friends. The aids prevention kit is even held in the Smithsonian Museum. The day after the patent was approved, President Bush pulled funding to clinics in next day who would have made the kit available to the masses. I created the movement Pay it Forward Friday’s which eventually lead to the Random Act of Kindness Movement.
Sean O’Neal, Photographer:
I want my pictures to match the level of Ansell Adams I want to have my picture inspired people to make them want to connect back with nature .I know my pictures will change people’s lives.
I want to create products that help people live better lives.
Receptionist at KPFK Public Radio:
I see the passing of Muhammad Ali as the losing of an icon similar to the loss of Martin Luther King.
I am a loving, caring, giving world leader. I touch and inspire each person I come in contact to live a better and happier life.
Ascanio Pignatelli, Coachmaster’s Toastmaster Club Marina Del Rey:
What I’d want to be remembered for is having made a huge contribution in the world and much better place.
Natalie Hernandez, Coachmaster’s Toastmaster Club Marina Del Rey:
I believe that love is everything. Love is much more important than money.
I would like to be remembered as putting a smile on someone’s face. I am inspirational and powerful woman who empower others to their greatness. I show people how to have more time and make more money.