For decades Muhammad Ali and spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy established a close friendship based on their shared love of God and dedication to fitness and sports.
During their meeting on the morning of Ali’s title defense fight with Earnie Shavers, September 29th, 1977, they spent an hour together in shared silent prayer. A photo of the two men serenely meditating was placed side by side a photo of Ali powerfully vanquishing Shavers on the front page of The New York Times the following morning.
Sri Chinmoy, who led the twice-weekly peace meditation at the United Nations for 37 years, told the world’s most beloved athlete Ali, “You are changing the face and fate of mankind. Your very name encourages and inspires. As soon as people hear ‘Muhammad Ali,’ they are inspired. They get tremendous joy. They get such dynamism to be brave and face ignorance…Your heart of oneness with all humanity makes you the greatest.”
Ali replied to Sri Chinmoy, “My goal is to be like you one day—to be peaceful and out of this sport working for humanity and for God…I want to do something to bring people together, to work for God and to help people.”
This week members of the Sri Chinmoy Centers worldwide and friends are paying tribute to the memory of Muhammad Ali by performing three songs composed by their teacher about the immortal boxer. The songs were first performed during meetings of Sri Chinmoy with Muhammad Ali and are entitled Greater than the Greatest, Muhammad Ali – Champion Ali, and Indomitable Hero Supreme. They speak of the physical and spiritual greatness of one of the most universally loved figures of our age.
Many years later, on June 12th, 2003, Sri Chinmoy met again with Muhammad Ali and also his wife, Lonnie, at The Oneness-Family School in Washington, DC. There Sri Chinmoy honored both husband and wife by lifting them together overhead in his signature Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart program. The spiritual luminary said to the beloved boxer, Brother, you were the greatest. You are the greatest. You forever will remain the greatest!”
Delighted by the honor, Muhammad Ali embraced Sri Chinmoy and sweetly exclaimed, “Brother, you are a great man! Brother, you are a very strong man!”