Sacrifices and Success

posted by the hanging out team - Monday, March 04, 2013

To become a top level sportsman today takes more than dedication and talent. Most people can see the glamorous lifestyle of playing for Barcelona or running in the 100m final of the Olympics. But what most people don’t see is the decades of sacrifices top-level sportsmen and women had to make to achieve their dreams. For most young people playing for their boyhood favourite club is a distant dream, for a lucky small minority of us the chance is actually within touching grasp, but what are these sacrifices the likes of Usain Bolt, Cristiano Ronaldo or Muhammad Ali had to make? Was it worth it?

Barcelona winger and four times Balloon D’or champion Lionel Messi is regarded as one of the best players in world football. He once said “I made a lot of sacrifices by leaving Argentina, leaving my family to start a new life. But everything I did, I did for football, to achieve my dream. That's why I didn't go out partying, or do a lot of other things.”

We here at Hanging Out Project believe it’s so crucial to take notice of what people have sacrificed to make their dreams come true. It’s an inspiration to us all and a reminder that in this world if you want to achieve something, passion, devotion, perseverance are the fundamental elements for success, everything else comes down to talent. It would be easily mistakable to think that top level sportsmen and women only give up their time and energy levels to perform on the world’s highest level. Some people gave up so much more than that. In some cases people had to sacrifice their principles to become global stars. So, in the history of sport who has sacrificed the most?

For me, there can only be one stand out candidate, In 1967 he refused induction into the US army for religious reasons and as a consequence was stripped of his Heavyweight title, not only was he stripped of everything he had worked towards but also his freedom. Sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for standing up for something he believed in, fined more than $10,000 and exiled from the one of the few things he got pleasure from in this world. Of course I’m talking about the very instrumental three-time Heavyweight champion of the world Muhammad Ali the Great!

Bust portrait of Muhammad Ali, World Journal Tribune photo by Ira Rosenberg
Muhammad Ali, World Journal Tribune photo copyright© by Ira Rosenberg 1967

In an era defined by endless war we should recognise a day that wasn’t celebrated on Capitol Hill or in the White House. On June 20th 1967, Ali was convicted in Houston for draft evasion of the Vietnam War with a harsh sentence of 5 years. Ali saw the war in Vietnam as an exercise in genocide and said at the time “ Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs?"

Eventually justice did prevail and the Supreme Court overturned Ali’s conviction in 1971. Three years after that he was back in the ring and boxing George Foreman for the Heavyweight title. He successfully used his “rope-a-dope” strategy to defeat Foreman in one of the most tactical boxing matches the world has even seen. Ali allowed Foreman to get him against the ropes and swing away until he got tired. Then, like Panther he pounced and the fight was over in a matter of moments.

The Hanging Out Project would like to give praise to Ali, take a moment to consider the risk and sacrifice this individual had to endure….yes it was worth it.

Joe Parkinson
Hanging Out writer

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