Is it Worth it?

We might never reach the levels of discomfort in our lives that Ali and Frazier had that night in New York. However, we face many of their same fundamental questions each day.

Fifty years ago this week, the fight of the century took place between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in front of 20,455 screaming fans on a Monday night at Madison Square Garden. Both heavyweights were undefeated, but this bout was about far more than hooks and haymakers.

Each fighter hated the other for his views. Ali had become a symbol of the left-wing anti-establishment movement during his government-imposed exile from the ring, while the conservative, pro-war movement had adopted Frazier.

To many, this was about good vs. evil, right vs. wrong. For the two men in the ring, though, it was never about anything other than the will to win. Who had the will to continue when fatigue took over? Who had the heart, the desire to keep throwing punches when his arms felt like cinder blocks? Who had the toughness to take the punches when the pain became unbearable? And most of all, who had the mental stamina to endure when his mind would ask his body, “Is this worth it?” 

We might never reach the levels of discomfort in our lives that Ali and Frazier had that night in New York. However, we face many of their same fundamental questions each day: Is this worth it? Is what we sacrifice going to prove to be worthwhile? Can we keep going for the greater good? Can we continue to live through this COVID restrictive world? 

Much like Ali and Frazier, no matter how tired or how much pain we feel, we must answer the bell. It would have been easy for either boxer to walk away that night — but the easy rarely gives us satisfaction. We are all not built to take that road, that path of least resistance. We know what we are doing will prove worthwhile, even though, at the moment, it doesn’t seem that way. We have to train our minds to block out the negative talk, to remove that doubt because we know we can answer the bell and come out fighting every round just like Ali and Frazier.

When we think of these men, let’s think of their will, their character and most of all their determination to answer that bell 15 times. And then let’s remember how it proved to be worthwhile.