The current February 2014 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine has an interesting and timely article about the “Louisville Lip,” aka Cassius Clay, now Muhammad Ali. The article, subtitled, “Fifty Years the “Louisville Lip” fulfilled his own prophecy” is especially timely given all the hubba-hubba after the Seattle Seahawks’, Richard Sherman, so-called rant. The media went ballistics after Sherman’s miracle play led to a last minute 23-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers. I’m sure you already know what was said about Sherman—including calling him “a thug” because of his in your face so-called taunting of Michael Crabtree.
Let’s compare what Sherman did to what Muhammad Ali did. When Ali was preparing for his heavyweight fight with Sonny Liston, no one gave him a snowball’s chance in hell of beating Liston. Of all the sports writers covering the fight 46 out of 49 said that Liston was going to slaughter Ali. Everyone saw the then Cassius Clay as nothing more than a loud mouth, “pretty boy” who had no boxing skills to speak of. Even though Ali could throw six punches in 2.15 seconds, he was still seen as a complete underdog. In fact, before the fight Cassius Clay signed a boxing glove with his name, along with the words, “Next Heavyweight Champion of the World.” That glove is now in the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Before the fight, the “Louisville Lip’ referred to Liston as “that big, ugly bear.” He also said a lot more; he said that if Liston made him wait, he would “take him in eight.” Ali became known for making big, bold, brash, loud-mouth prediction, often in rhyme, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
The fight between Ali and Liston took place on February 25, 1964. When Ali weighed in the doctors said that his heart rate was 120, twice what it should have been. In the eyes of boxing pros that further signaled Ali’s fear –yet another sign that he would be beat to a pulp. Well, after seven rounds of fighting, Liston refused to come out his corner—he was too beat up, too cut up, and bleeding too badly. So what did Ali do, he screamed at the writers, “EAT YOUR WORDS!!!!?” One sports writer began his column about the fight saying, “Incredibly, this loud-mouthed bragging, insulting youngster had been telling the truth all along.”
I understand that Sherman has apologized for detracting from the “team spirit” after the win over the 49ers and that he is now readying for Sunday’s Super Bowl as a more humbled player. But Sherman had to weather a lot of scrutiny by a lot of people who found something to say about “his lip.” But compared to Muhammad Ali, Sherman’s rant was mild. In fact, Ali’s “lip” preceded him. Sherman spoke after the fact saying the he was the “greatest.” Ali predicted his own greatness long before he entered the ring. What folks said about Ali’s lip what that his predictions were an announcement of his arrival. When Ali said, “if I say a flea can pull a 0wagon all you need do is hook them up,” he was being not only bold, but sure of himself.
So what’s wrong with a little bragging? If you saw the Grammy’s last night you saw the “nasty” show put on by the Mr. and Mrs. Carter—when Beyonce turned her butt and grinded her behind to the world. No one has said a word about this type of “bragging with your body.” Hey if you got if flaunt it—work that butt woman—work it!! So why all the backlash over Sherman’s high adrenaline-fueled comments? Hey the man had just won a game sending him to the biggest sports event of the year. He had a right to be loud and braggadocios. Go Seahawks!!!
Copyright 2014 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.