Fifty some odd years ago, a twenty-two-year-old Muhammad Ali (at the time still known as Cassius Clay) stepped into the ring with the heavyweight champion of the world, Sonny Liston.
There was concern that Liston was going to kill Ali.
Not figuratively but literally.
Liston was 220 pounds of pure power and widely considered to throw the most lethal jabs on the planet, while Ali was still a young gun in the world of boxing.
On the day of the fight as the young Ali stepped into the ring, he spouted out a line that would become something of a tagline (or punchline, rather) for the rest of his career…
“Float like a butterfly sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.”
Then, the match was underway.
Ali won by technical knockout after the sixth round when Liston refused to come out.
I don’t know enough about boxing to say whether or not Muhammad Ali was the greatest boxer of all time. But, I can say, without a doubt, he was the greatest poet the sport ever saw.
This is what makes the larger-than-life figure that is Ali so interesting, he was something of a warrior-poet… equal parts fighter and prose.
His uncanny way with words fueled his fame in boxing, while his talent put his money where his mouth was.
Nearly a decade later…
After Ali’s bout with Liston, we see his infamous line appear again in a poem he belted in the weeks leading up to his 1974 battle against George Foreman for the world heavyweight title…
“You think the world was shocked when Nixon resigned? Wait ’til I whup George Foreman’s behind.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hand can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.
Now you see me, now you don’t. George thinks he will, but I know he won’t.
I done wrassled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale.
Only last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick. I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.”
Ali knocked Foreman out in the eighth round leaving the fallen world champion uttering the following words…
“Muhammad Ali amazed me: I’ll admit it,”
Humankind was mesmerized by Ali not just for his almost god-like abilities in the ring but for his word-play that brought an element of hype around his legend that seems to have never gone away…
He’s a reminder to writers of the power of words and, perhaps, a challenge to anyone creating anything that if you’re going to make a bold claim, you better be able to back it the fuck up.
But, I digress.
By Cole Schafer.
You gotta check this out — Sticky Notes is my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.
Originally published at https://www.honeycopy.com on April 9, 2020.