On Saturday, October 15, 2016, early on a foggy, San Francisco morning, hundreds of activist-athletes and good Samaritans, of all faiths and even those without, came from a rainbow of races, nationalities, sexual orientations, and gender identities converged at Lake Merced Park.
After months of donations, given by a multitude of contributors, over a hundred thousand dollars was raised to support the children affected by the crisis and blockade in Gaza.
Proceeds from the Gaza 5k walk/run went to the UNRWA’s community Mental Health Program for Palestinian children in Gaza suffering from Psychological issues and posttraumatic stress disorder, due to the prolonged crisis of 2014 and the continued Israeli blockade in the Gaza area.
At the event there were several awe-inspiring and wonderful people of various ethnic backgrounds and cultures, united for this one great progressive cause, but the one person who stood out the most to me was fellow activist-athlete and a person I call friend, Chelsea Swall, her toughness still continues to blow me completely off my feet . Chelsea is what many millennials would refer to as a sociopreneur, for those of you unfamiliar with that term, a sociopreneur, according to UrbanDictionary.com is : “An enterprising individual that starts a venture not merely for profits but for inclusion of the communities that so far have been left out of the main stream.”
Well before the age of 30, she has already earned her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy /Counseling , worked at places like San Francisco suicide Prevention, USF Center for Child and Family Development, continues to volunteer in her community and has recently began practicing as a Marriage and Family Therapy Intern at a San Francisco private practice. What is most amazing to me is how she has turned her family’s tragedy and unimaginable personal “Pain into a Passion Fueled Purpose”, having lost two family members to suicide, she fights valiantly everyday to help people suffering with various types of psychological issues and mental Trauma. For Chelsea this is not about politics or religion ,it’s about curing a disease that according to the World Health Organization , over 350 million people are suffering from worldwide. An agonizing disease that at its worst, can lead to suicide, the World Health Organization states: Over 800 000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.”
I am pleased to say Chelsea and I have become good friends over time. Here is some of our conversation from the event :
Me: where are you originally from?
Chelsea : San Diego
Me: What made you come to San Francisco?
Chelsea : I came here for graduate school at San Francisco State University . I also loved the openness of alot of the people here.
Me: what age were you when you decided psychology was the path you wanted to take in life?
Chelsea: in high school I took a psychology class and volunteered at a hospice, but junior year of college is when I knew for sure, that I wanted to work in mental health.
Me: what do you want to accomplish by being here today?
Chelsea : bring awareness and raise money for a good cause.
Me: do you plan to continue to do community volunteering and activism for mental health causes?
Chelsea : yes
For those of you interested in seeing an amazing therapist in the Bay Area, use the link below to contact Chelsea Swall :
Proceeds from this 5k walk / run benefit the UNRWA’S Community Mental Health Program, for children in Palestine suffering from PTSD and other psychological trauma, due to the blockade and current conflict in the region.
The situation is so dire, the internationally-known scientist, historian, social critic and political activist, Noam Chomsky said the occupation in Palestine is worst than the Apartheid of the South African past.
Noam Chomsky on BDS and How the Israeli Occupation is “Much Worse Than Apartheid”
Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in the segregated south of Louisville, Kentucky, on January 17, 1942. Clay grew up in a house with a sister and four brothers. Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. and his father Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. were both named after the 19th century republican politican and slave abolitionist , who was also from Kentucky.
Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. earned money for his family by painting billboard signs and his wife Odessa O’Grady Clay was a household domestic.
Clay would be first introduced to boxing by local police officer and boxing coach Joe E. Martin, who witnessed the 12 year old, looking very irate one day, when officer Martin spoke with the young Clay, he realized Clay was upset that a thief stole his bike, Clay told officer Martin he planned to “Whup” the thief if he caught him. Martin Told Clay, he better learn boxing first, before attempting to “Whup” the thief.
Clay would begin his amateur boxing career in 1954, he would go on to win six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two national Golden Gloves titles, an AAU national title and he would win the Light Heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy.
In his 1975 autobiography, Ali claimed he threw his Olympic Gold medal in the Ohio River after he and a friend were denied service at a “Whites Only” restaurant. Which would eventually lead to them having to physically defend themselves against a mob of angry white racists.
Clay would make his professional boxing debut in October 1960. In 1963 Clay would become impressive enough to become the number one contender to the crown of then heavyweight king Sonny Liston. On February 25, 1964, in Miami Beach, Clay would do the unthinkable and defeat the seemingly unbeatable thug with alleged mob connections, when Sonny Listen refused to answer the bell for the 7th round, making Clay the youngest heavyweight boxing champion at the time, at the young age of 22.
Soon after winning the heavyweight boxing crown, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. would change his name to Huhammad Ali, after converting to Islam and joining the nation of Islam.
In February of 1966, Ali was reclassified by the Louisville, Kentucky Draft board as 1-A from 1-Y. Despite that fact Ali still had no plan or desire to serve in the United States’ military service. Ali openly stated in the press : “I ain’t got nothing against no viet Cong; no Viet Cong never called me nigger”.
After a successful titled bout in March of 1967, Ali had his boxing world titled stripped for refusal to be drafted into the U.S. Army Service. His boxing title was suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission. On June 20, 1967, Ali would be convicted of draft evasion, he was sentenced to five years in prison and given a 10,000 fine. Ali would pay a bond and remain free, while the court’s verdict was being appealed by his legal team.
As a result of Ali’s conviction, he was denied a boxing license in every American state and stripped of his passport, so that he was unable to earn a living for himself and his family by boxing overseas. Ali would not fight professionally from march 1967 to October 1970. As opposition against the Vietnam War increased across the nation, Ali’s stance gained sympathy, his conviction would be over-turned in 1971, a few months after having his boxing license reinstated and having a couple return matches.
Ali would soon become the number one contender to heavyweight champion Joe Frazier’s world title, in a fight nicknamed the “Fight of the Century ” due to the fact that two undefeated boxers, both held legitimate claims to the heavyweight crown were set to fight, to see who the true world heavyweight boxing champion of the world was. Ali would go on to lose to Joe Frazier, by unanimous decision, the first loss of his career.
After several comeback fights, Ali would once again become the number one contender for the heavyweight boxing world title, which at the time was held by the very dangerous and heavy-handed George Foreman.
On October 30, 1974 in a bout nicknamed ” The Rumble in The Jungle ” held in Kinshasa, Zaire, Ali using his “rope-a-dope” style to do once again the unthinkable and defeat a man, many considered to be the hardest hitting man in boxing history, to become a two-time boxing heavyweight world champion.
On October 1, 1975 , Ali would go on to fight his rival Joe Frazier for the third time, each having a past victory over their rival, they would fight for 14 tough rounds, Ali would say about the fight : “was the closest thing to dying I know”. Joe Frazier’s corner would refuse to let him fight the 15th round, after both of Frazier’s eyes closed, giving Ali the win by tko.
In September 1976, Ali won a highly contested match against Ken Norton. After the bout Ali claimed he was leaving the sport to focus on his religion of Sunni Islam, having left the Nation of Islam a year earlier.
In February 1978, Ali would fight an up and coming contender named Leon Spinks, at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The young spinks would defeat an aging and out of shape Ali, via split decision. The two would have a rematch, shortly after the first fight, in the bout, Ali would win via unanimous decision, becoming the first three time heavyweight boxing world champion.
Following his win on July 27, 1979, Ali announced his retirement from boxing. His retirement would not last long, we would soon challenge Larry Holmes for the WBC world title, in a quest to be the only four-time heavyweight boxing world champion in history. The Ali-holmes fight would take place on October 2, 1980. Ali would be battered so badly in the fight his trainer Angelo Dundee, would be forced to stop the fight.
Despite peas to stop fighting from family and friends, Ali would fight one last time on December 11, 1981, in Nassau, Bahamas against Trevor Berbick, Ali would lose the fight, via ten-round decision.
ALI AFTER BOXING:
In 1984, Ali would be diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome, it is believed by many he received the disease from years of head Trauma through boxing.
In 1991 Ali published Muhammad Ali : His life and times. That same year, Ali traveled to Iraq during the Gulf War, in an attempt to negotiate the release of Americans being held hostage.
In 1996, Ali would be given the honor of lighting the Olympic flame at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. At those same games, Ali would also receive a replacement Olympic Gold Medal .
Years later, Muhammad Ali would go to Afghanistan as the “U.N. Messenger of peace on November 17, 2002.
In July 2012, was a titular bearer of the Olympic flag, during the opening of the 2012 Summer Olympic games in London, England.
After years of battling a worsening health condition, like he battled boxers in the ring, Ali sadly would lose the fight for his life, when he died of Septic shock on June 2, 2016.