Here’s How Muhammad Ali Viewed The Purpose Of Living: “Life Is Not Really Long”
On top of leaving behind an impeccable career in boxing and activism, the late Muhammad Ali was a master with his words. From discussing the power of his blackness to refuting the idea of war to ensure peace, Ali’s quick and clever vernacular was just one of the reasons he’s the most quoted athlete in history.
As fans continue to share his most prolific and hilarious interviews, his 1977 interview with Reg Gutteridge has become the most touching, as the great one discussed what our true purpose in life should be. Ali, born Cassius Clay Jr., was asked by a young fan on what he plans to do when he retired from boxing. In the 9-minute speech, Ali explains how he wants to use his time to show his love and appreciation to those around him before his body is of no more use in the world.
“Life is not really long,” he said. “Let’s say the average person is 30-years-old. If you’re 30 years old, you’re not but about 7 years old. How can I prove it? Add up all the 7, 8, 9 hours you slept each night for 30 years. Last night when you went to bed and woke up this morning, you don’t remember a thing. You’ve been unconscious for about 8 years if you’re 30 years old. When you’re 65, ain’t too much more to do so. Did you know I will be 65 in 30 more years? In those 30 years, I have to sleep 9 years. I don’t have 30 years of daylight. And out of my next 30 years, I might have 16 years to be productive. What am I going to do in the next 16 years, what is the best thing I can do? Get ready to meet God.”
While sharing the concept of time, Ali says the importance of how we spend out time is what’s important.
“He wants to know how do we treat each other, how do we help each other,” he explained. “So I’m going to dedicate my life to using my name and popularity to helping charities, helping people, uniting people. We need somebody in the world to help us all make peace. So when I die, if there’s a heaven, I want to see it.”
Ali died on Friday (June 3) in Phoenix, Ariz., after battling respiratory issues. He also faced a 30 year battle with Parkinson’s disease following his retirement from boxing. Ali is survived by his wife Lonnie and nine children, including fellow former world champion Laila Ali and author Hana Ali.
Check out the rest of his iconic speech below.