Cassius Clay was born in Louisville, Kentucky at the height of segregation. When Cassius was twelve, his parents bought him a bike with their hard earned money. His precious birthday present was soon stolen and he reported the theft to local policeman, Joe Martin, saying that he wanted to find the thief and sort him out. Joe was a boxing instructor and he told him that he would have to learn to fight first and so he did…Cassius knew that boxing could provide him with an escape from all the insecurity, injustice and inequality that he faced. He grasped that opportunity, worked relentlessly and became the greatest fighter ever known – Muhammad Ali.
So what does this story tell us?
There could be a life changing opportunity around every corner. The challenge is to identify it and then have the courage to see it through. If we encounter barriers and challenges along the way, maybe we too should dust ourselves down and find another way. That way of thinking is so important not only for all those big life defining moments, but also for all the more normal every day events. We must persevere if we are to close that deal, to win back that client who has been stolen from us, or to re contact that person who has never acknowledged receipt of our email.
Failure cannot be an option. If we want to win, we just have to fight harder…
Somebody had stolen his new Schwinn. A man told the boy he could complain to a policeman who happened to be in the building’s basement, where he operated a boxing gym in his spare time. “If I find the guy who took my bike,” Cassius told the late Joe Martin, the part-time trainer, “I’m gonna whup him.” Cassius had never thought of boxing until then. You could almost describe the meeting of the boy and the trainer as miraculous. “Had they not met,” Martin Jr. said, “there might not have been Muhammad Ali.” The next night the kid came back to the gym — and night after night he kept coming back. Soon, people began to hear about a talkative youngster who was calling himself “the greatest.”