Many would have thought the iconic boxer Mohammad Ali was a natural.
Nonetheless, Ali was not a natural, at least according to the “tales of the tape” yardstick.
According to the “tales of the tape”, a mechanism on which experts relied on in the early days of boxing to predict how successful the career of a boxer will be.
They classified Mohammad Ali as not good enough and was put in the failure category since he failed across board in all his measurement tests.
The tales of the tape included physical measurements like the fighter’s fist, reach, chest expansion, height and weight as well as past records as to what championship belts they possess.
So what was it about Mohammad Ali that made him immensely successful in the boxing arena?
As Dr. Dweck clearly articulates in her book Mindset; Muhammad Ali’s iconic boxing career had much more to do with his growth-oriented psychology as opposed to the widely accepted yet erroneous predictor of success: physical talent.
Mohammad had great speed, but not the physique, strength and classical moves of a great fighter. He had a highly unorthodox style for a heavyweight boxer.
Instead of the normal boxing style of blocking punches with the hand and elbow, he rather relied on his quick feet and ability to avoid a punch.
Ali’s competitive advantage was his mind and not so much of his physique. He was mentally strong and won every fight from his mental haven.
No wonder he made statements like “the fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights”. “I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was“.
He mostly sizes up his opponents on a mental pedestal. He would study their fighting style, and closely observe what kind of person they were, out of the ring.
Ali demonstrated that no matter how physically deficit (not so endowed) you may be you can still rise strongly to attain greatness in the arena where physical endowment is highly required for success.
Instead of looking himself in the mirror and grumbling about how inept he was, he decided to use different paths to greatness and he sure did.
Victory is from your head and not from your muscles.
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