Muhammad Ali: Why His Message Should Matter to Latinos Everywhere

"The Greatest." Muhammad Ali gave himself this title more than 50 years ago, and because it was true, it stuck. To quote "The Greatest," "It ain't bragging if you can back it up."

Friday night, "The Greatest" died from respiratory complications related to Parkinson's, the degenerative disease he battled for 30-plus years. He was 74 years old.  

In the 48 hours since his death, Muhammed Ali tributes have proliferated on TV, online, and in the papers. Without intending to, I've watched, followed, and read them all. This is not because I'm a boxing aficionado or even a moderately sporty gal. 

It's because I am someone who cannot separate the art from the artist. If you're like me, you can hear the voice of a great singer, but if said signer also beats up his girlfriend or doesn't tip waiters, you can't respect it. 

I grieved Prince's death not just because he was a great musician, but because he was a stealth philanthropist. I grieved Elizabeth Pena's death not just because she was a great actress, but because she tackled important roles that pushed against the boundaries of race and gender. And I grieved Selena's death not just because she had a beautiful voice and celebrated Mexican music and culture, but because she was a loving daughter, sister, and wife.

And so it is with Ali. I grieve his death not just because he was "The Greatest" boxer, but because he was a spectacular human being, and because he leaves us, in his wake, a legacy of empowerment, compassion, and appreciation for both our differences and similarities.

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About this author

Amanda Cargill, Food Content Director

Amanda Cargill is the Food Content Director at Latina Media Ventures, where she oversees food- and spirits-related features in Latina Magazine and on Latina.com and TheLatinKitchen.com. She has traveled extensively in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Her work and travel have cultivated her palate and fostered a love of food and the stories it tells. She is also a former professional dancer who writes arts and entertainment reviews for domestic and international publications. Amanda received her BA in Sociology from UCLA.

Follow her on Twitter at @amandasi and on Instagram at @amandasi1

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