Second Half.

It is a new month. A new month to many usually marks another moment to turn over a new leaf in the event that the previous month turned out to be hell. To some, it is their birthday month, a month for them to grow a year older and wiser. Whatever your view of a new month is, just give thanks to the One above for bringing you this far. But, have you realized that today, yes today the 2nd of July marks the beginning of the second half of the year?

There is a reason why most games have a half-time break. It is usually a time for the coaches to change the game tactics supposing the first half went awry. For the team on the winning side of the first half, it is a time to identify tactics that will help them consolidate their first-half performance in order for them to seize the day. All in all, the second half of the match is very critical to any game because the match is always unpredictable; anything can happen.

We have always seen teams that have been on the losing end of the match in the first half come back in the second half and seize the day! Remember the Miracle In Istanbul? The year was 2005. The game was a Champions League Final pitting Italian Giants AC Milan against the most successful English club in the Champions League i.e. Liverpool. By then, I was supporting Liverpool to take the cup being a big fan of the EPL. Liverpool conceded easily within the first minute. They further conceded another two goals to end the first half three goals down. What makes this match be termed as a miracle is that Liverpool made a comeback in the second half within 6 minutes, yes you read that right, 6 minutes!! The second half was so intense and the game was forced to go into extra time and eventually had to be decided on penalties where Liverpool emerged with victory.



Liverpool players react after the final spot kick went in to make them the UEFA Champions in 2005.

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The Miracle in Istanbul serves to remind us that we should not give up when the going gets tough. We should hold on and identify appropriate measures we need to take to improve our lives. We need to view a crisis as a chance to prove how strong we can be. At times we need to hit the rock bottom in order for us to become successful. Hitting the rock bottom should also serve to make us strong.


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You have a chance to make your life better during this second half of the year. You have the chance to achieve that goal or resolution you set at the beginning of the year. If you wanted to become a millionaire, there goes your chance. If you wanted to start a business, well there goes your chance. Moreover, if your life had experienced a ‘beatdown’ in the first half just forget it and focus on the positives. Start the second half on a positive note and remember that as a man thinketh so he is. If you think the second half is just going to be tough like the first, then it will be tough. Think positive and act right!


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I’m the world’s greatest…

I am a mountain
I am a tall tree
Oh, I am a swift wind
Sweepin’ the country
I am a river
Down in the valley
Oh, I am a vision
And I can see clearly

If anybody asks you who I am
Just stand up tall, look ’em in the face and say

I’m that star up in the sky
I’m that mountain peak up high
Hey, I made it
I’m the worlds greatest
And I’m that little bit of hope
When my back’s against the ropes
I can feel it mmm
I’m the world’s greatest


Watch the song here:

This is the opening verse to R.Kelly’s song I’m the world’s greatest released in February 2002 in honour of Muhammad Ali, who made significant contributions to the world of boxing. Condolences continue to pour following the demise of the man termed as Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC.

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Ali standing over Liston after knocking him to the floor during their first match in 1965.

Image credits: Daily Mail.

At a very young age of 22, he was able to floor Sonny Liston who was by then a dominating force to reckon with to lift the world heavyweight championship. You cannot mention Ali’s name and fail to talk about The Fight of the Century held at the Garden, New York in 1971 pitting him against Joe Frazier and The Rumble in the Jungle, a match which was conducted in Kinshasa, Zaire in 1974.

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Ali and Zaire President Joseph Mobutu during the build-up to The Rumble in the Jungle match in 1974.

Image credits: Daily Mail.

The Fight of the Century was of much significance as it was conducted shortly after Ali’s return from exile and a comeback to boxing. The period between 1967-70 was marked with Ali staying away from the sport due to his firm stand against Vietnam War. He even refused to join the American army and as a consequence was stripped his passport and denied a boxing licence. He did not despair and out of this challenge he carved himself out as an advocate for the African American pride and racial justice.

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With Dr. Martin Luther King in March 1967.

Image credits: Daily Mail

The reason why The Fight of the Century was also given much significance is because the two contenders, Ali and Frazier, were both undefeated. The match exhibited mixed reactions and instances of ‘Rope-a-Dope’ strategy were in play. Ali was eventually defeated in this match and that marked his first professional defeat. He however defeated Frazier during their second meeting in 1974.

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Ali squaring it out with Frazier during The Fight of the Century.

Image credits: Daily Mail

The Rumble in the Jungle match on the other hand pitted Ali against George Foreman who was by then considered one of the hardest punchers in the history of heavyweight boxing. In Zaire, crowds chanted ‘Ali bomaye!!’ which when translated to English means ‘Ali, kill him!!’. Ali was able to win this match and regain his title by knockout. He adopted the rope-a-dope strategy which involved letting the opponent strike at will while he verbally taunted him. It will be remembered that before the match, Ali exhibited a lot of confidence and was quoted saying: I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale, handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick. I’m so mean I make medicine sick.‘ It is with such confidence that he was able to deliver the title home once again.


Ali tramps around the ring after flooring George Foreman in round eight of The Rumble in the Jungle in Zaire in 1974

Image credits: Daily Mail.

The Rumble in the Jungle reminds me of a motivational speaker by the name Pepe Minambo, who is a Congolese by birth, when he visited our high school while I was in form 4 to give us a motivational talk. He used Ali as an example to encourage us that we should believe in ourselves and also have great confidence. It is in confidence that success thrives. A potrayal of Ali’s confidence may be summarized by one of his famous quotes where he said, ‘If you even dream of beating me, you better wake up and apologize.‘ He believed in himself and this made him successful in his boxing career. Such belief in himself at the early stages of his life may be seen where he was quoted saying, I am the greatest, I’m the greatest that ever lived. I don’t have a mark on my face‘, after flooring Liston in 1964. Believing that he was the greatest that ever lived translated into the world recognizing him as The Greatest.

Another great match in which Ali featured was against Ken Norton whom he used to taunt by referring to him as Ken Nothing in March 1973. During this match, Norton broke Ali’s jaw and eventually won the match by split decision. Their second meeting came later that year in September where Ali won by split decision. They would again meet in September 1976 where Ali won by unanimous decison.

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Ali delivering a right hand away against Ken Norton during their 3rd meeting at the Yankee Stadium in 1976.

Image credits: Daily Mail.

Some of the quotable quotes by Ali which we as humans can draw motivation and inspiration are as follows:

If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it. (motivation to achieve).

I’m not the greatest; I’m the double greatest. Not only do I knock ’em out, I pick the round. (on gaining inspiration to win).

A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted thirty years of his life. (on making progress in life).

I am so fast that last night I turned off the light switch and was in bed before the room was dark. (confidence).

I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion. (on holding on to your vision and enjoying the tough journey to success).

Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even. (on finding motivation during the low moments of our lives).

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing. (possibility in everything).

Don’t count the days; make the days count. (on effective and efficient utilization of the days of our lives).

Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them: a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill. (on having a great desire, dreaming big, a clear vision and the will to achieve greatness).

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. (on risk taking).

It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself. (on having faith in oneself).

Though he is gone, he will forever remain to be a legend not only in the world of sports but also in the world over. His confidence and belief in oneself should serve to motivate and inspire us to have faith in ourselves. The life and times of Muhammad Ali as a champion in the world of boxing reminds us that it is in having faith and confidence in everything and anything that we do that we shall be able to achieve success and greatness.

Rest In Peace The Greatest…

Is this TRUE???

It was all fun for the football fans last Saturday as Real Madrid lifted the Champions League trophy for the 11th time. This feat made them the most successful club in the competition prompting some individuals to term them as ‘The Champion of Champions’.

In light of that achievement, there were some interesting observations made by football fans and pundits. Cristiano Ronaldo more so is said to have a less impact in this particular game. However, he saved himself from ’embarrassment’ when he netted the winner during the penalty shootout to emerge the hero of the game. On the other hand, Pepe, who is recognized as one of the most versatile members of the Madrid back four was termed as ‘lazy’ and was further criticized for play-acting during the match. This led to one pundit using unprintable words to describe his performance for the night.



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Away from that little reminder of that night in San Siro and back to my post today. I would like to share a story of Cristiano Ronaldo and his academy team-mate, Albert Fantrau.



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”…….Moments after Real Madrid Football Club won their 10th UEFA Champions League trophy in 2014, the global audience and thousands of football fans at the Estádio da Luz, Lisbon in Lisbon were taken by surprise when Cristiano Ronaldo abandoned the team’s celebration and ran to a section of the stand to pull out a man from the crowd and hug him affectionately. The action was a public confession by Ronaldo to honour his childhood clubmate who ‘sacrificed himself’ and allowed the Portuguese star to become a global icon today. Ronaldo said in an interview he granted some years ago that he and his friend were vying for a spot in an academy of Andorinha in Funchal, Madeira. “I have to thank my old friend Albert Fantrau for my success. We played together for the same team in the U-18 championship. When a scout came to see us he said that “Whoever scores more goals will come into our academy.” “We won that match 3-0. I scored the first goal then Albert scored the second with a great header. But the third goal was impressive for all of us. Albert was one-on-one against the goalkeeper, he rounded the goalkeeper and I was running in front of him. “All he had to do was to score that goal but he passed it to me and I scored the third goal, so I got that spot and went to the academy. “After the match, I went to him and asked him why? Albert said that “Because you (Ronaldo) are better than me.” Journalists then went to Albert’s house and asked him if it was a true story. He said yes. He also said that his career as a player after the match ended and now is unemployed. “But how did you build this house so great, you have a car? You seem like a rich man. You also able keep your family. From where did this come from? ‘ Albert more proudly replied: “It is from Ronaldo!” This explains why Ronaldo had to single him out of the crowd to share in his celebration…….”



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PAUSE: If this story is anything to go by, then it serves us with an important lesson which is that of never forgetting the person who believed in us and gave us a helping hand in life.