“From a little spark may burst a flame.” –Dante
Before the Peloponnesian War, before the Trojan War, there was the War of the Titans. The Titans versus The Olympian Gods, for absolute dominion over the created world. Zeus and his siblings, like Poseidon and Hades, rebel against their father, the Titan Kronos. Gods, Titans, Giants, and Cyclopses; waging war. In the end, the Titans lost. The Gods took sovereignty over the world, on Mount Olympus.
One of these Titans was Prometheus. In a brazen act, he steals fire from Zeus, and gifts it to Humanity. The gift of fire brought progress and civilization. For the Ancient Greeks, fire had many divine connotations. For this (and other reasons), The Olympic Games begin with the lighting of the Olympic Flame, that remains lit for the duration of the Games.
The first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896, in Athens. A mere 14 countries participated. This was also the first organized running of the Marathon Race. In 1996, at the Games’ Centennial, they came to Atlanta, Georgia. 197 Nations participated. The Olympic Games are not without controversy. The 1936 Games held in Nazi Germany. The 1980 Games held in the Soviet Union. The tragedy of the Munich Massacre during the 1972 Games. In 1996, however, the Games began with one of the most memorable and emotional displays, ever.
American swimmer, Janet Evans ascended the ramp towards the cauldron, torch in hand. Shockwaves ran through everyone in Centennial Stadium. There was collective “gasp” among the worldwide television audience. To everyone’s surprise, he appeared, from out of nowhere. The most beloved sports figure in history, Muhammad Ali, came to take the flame. Ali held the torch in his right hand, the rest of him trembling from Parkinson’s Disease. He stood with the flame, dignified, a symbol of courage, and brought tears to the World’s eyes.
What lights your way? We are all born with a blazing spirit of courage. It is not a spirit made to extinguish easily. We all have unique circumstances we face in our day-to-day. Some of those can be overwhelming and frightening; poor health, weight struggles or crippling disease, Courage is not the absence of these. It’s moving forward, doing what’s right; despite them. Look to the light.
Zeus cursed Prometheus to have an eagle eat his ever-regenerating liver every day. Hercules stumbled upon him during his travels. He killed the eagle and freed Prometheus.
The first Marathon race took place during the 1896 Olympic Games. During the first Persian invasion of Greece, the two armies collided on the field of Marathon. After the battle, a messenger ran from Marathon to Athens, to report of a Greek victory. The distance traveled: 42 kilometers or 26.09 miles. The marathon race in 1896 saw the winner finish in 2 hours, 58 minutes and 50 seconds, by a Greek citizen.
Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Clay. He won a gold medal in boxing at the 1960 games in Rome. He competed in multiple legendary fights that are immortalized in history. The Fight of the Century, The Thrilla in Manilla and The Rumble in the Jungle, to name a few. He also fought Chuck Wepner, an unknown who had no chance. Chuck lasted almost all 15 rounds, falling with 19 seconds remaining in the round. This underdog story fueled the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky. Ali’s refusal to fight in Vietnam turned him into a polarizing figure. His dazzling in-ring footwork and brash personality put him in a class on his own. In 1984 he received a diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease. His post-boxing became filled with humanitarian work and philanthropy. He died June 3, 2016, at 74 years old. He floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee. He was the Greatest.
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