Back in July 1977 during a four-day visit to England, four years before his permanent retirement, the star was interviewed by Reg Gutteridge for a TV show from Eldon Square Recreation Center in Newcastle. There Ali was asked by a young fan about what he would do if/when he walks away from the boxing world. Little did anyone expect to hear Ali deliver such an awe-inspiring speech on the meaning of life.
“Life is not really long,” the reigning heavyweight boxing champion 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.”
He went on to explain how much time we spend sleeping every night, traveling the country (and just to work), and in school. He says how we don’t even realize this time is just flying by us and in 30 years, he’ll be 65 and what will he have to show for it?
Ali further stated that “going into real estate, going in business, teaching boxers, that won’t get me to heaven.” Rather, selfless actions for the sake of humanity.
“So what I’m gonna do when I get out of boxing? Is to get myself ready to meet God. Don’t people die everyday? It’s a scary thing to think that I’m going to hell to burn eternally forever so what am I gonna do? When I get out of boxing or when I’m through I’m gonna do all I can to help people,” said Ali.
“He wants to know how do we treat each other, how do we help each other. So I’m going to dedicate my life to using my name and popularity to helping charities, helping people, uniting people,” he continued, adding, “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.”
But what he ends with is the most powerful component of his response. “I’m going to dedicate my life to using my name and popularity to helping charities, helping people, uniting people,” Ali said. “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.”
Watch the video below: