Muhammad Ali had a secret, but it wasn’t really a secret because he blasted off and blabbed about it to anyone and everyone who would listen…fans, crowds, media, Cosell, it was a part of Ali that never ended…the constant unveiling of his secrets as a form of communicating to people, who did not take the information as secret information to be treasured and learned from, but rather they thought it was funny, part of the entertainment, Ali The Showman they called him.
What Ali told us was a two part secret. The whole thing was about playing with gravity, which Ali and virtually all other gifted athletes have the innate ability to do. In fact, the ability to play with, or manipulate gravity is virtually synonymous with the words athletically gifted. Believe me, if you’re going to stand there, for example in golf and in the wink of an eye and the space of a phone booth take a long metal shaft with a knob on the end and propel a hard white object 350 down the middle, and then do that repeatedly and with enormous accuracy with a whole bunch of other-sized sticks and knobs, well you know how to play with gravity…and indeed you would also be a gifted athlete…like Jack Nicklaus, let’s say, a guy so good at manipulating gravity, and so well known for it, all you have to do to find information about him is Google something like Jack’s Record Book…and it comes up.
So the two part secret he was telling us, about his ability to play with gravity, goes kind of like this; He could levitate, to some small degree, and that was the Float Like A Butterfly part. Now back when Ali was saying that all the time, Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee…most people thought the Float Like A Butterfly part, if they thought about any of it at all, meant his ability to stay away from an opponent.
It really meant his ability to levitate, which in and of itself would be meaningless, but the whole secret to Ali was that a brief levitation was followed by a straight right hand with incredibly devastating power. Real power in athletics, like Reggie White’s ability to hit home runs….comes not from static energy but from a transference of energy. This is the playing with gravity part. Again, in golf, watch the pro swing closely. All the pros are physically gifted enough to take advantage of a moment of truth, when gravity is briefly suspended, and a blow with double or triple ordinary force can be obtained off the energy transference.
In other words, if you look closely, all pros make their forward swing just a split second before their back swing is finished. In other words they time it so their shoulders, arms, hands and club are still moving a tad bit back while they’ve already started their hips turning forward. This is what the word torque means, and it’s the place where all gifted athletes get their magical power.
Ali told us that is one quick sentence, “Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee.” It’s just that no one was really paying that much attention.