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On 3rd June 2016, the world lost one of the GREATS.

 I captured my thoughts on what striking qualities set Muhammad Ali apart from the rest in a speech I delivered in Cote d’Ivoire on April 21, 2016, at the Ivorian National Council of Employers’ 2016 Academy, excerpts of which are below:When we think about a champion, we often think about an individual who is a WINNER! People who combined talent with a dedication to hard work, and an understanding that inspiration needs also commitment, rigour and practice. These are people who have achieved and should be celebrated as they demonstrate what human beings can do when we set our minds to attaining goals or meeting a standard.
However, there is another kind of champion that I think is more important than a winner. This is the individual who not only achieves personal success and greatness in their chosen endeavours, but one who carries others along with them or uses their platform to lift others up. These are THE GREATS!
Tony Elumelu's photo.

A personal favourite of mine is Muhammad Ali, who said he was the greatest and then worked harder than most to ensure he deserved that accolade. But Muhammad Ali is a champion not only because of what he accomplished in the ring, but because of what he stood for. He stood up against an unjust system of racial segregation in the 1960s and defied the will of the most powerful government in the world. A government that was prepared to send him and fellow African Americans to die for their country’s political ideology in the Vietnam War, and yet was unwilling to uphold the civil rights guaranteed to those same African Americans under the constitution of the United States.

Tony Elumelu's photo.

In refusing to go to war, and confronting his government, Ali brought global attention to the racist and segregationist policies that belied the America’s founding philosophy of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” and in doing so, he helped to advance a movement that secured civil rights and lifted up people of colour in the United States. That is a Champion and that is Greatness!

Tony Elumelu's photo.

Essentially, I am saying that a champion who embodies true greatness is one who carries the fight, refuses to settle for a comfortable existence, thinks about the plight of others, inspires hope and decides to make the aspirations of others their personal fight despite major challenges. That is the difference between being a WINNER and a CHAMPION!
RIP to the Great CHAMPION, Muhammad Ali.