When you’re a kid, your dad seems like a superhero. It seems like there’s no problem he can’t solve and no challenge he can’t overcome. In fact, your father seems practically invincible. Then, one day, Muhammad Ali comes to your house and uppercuts your father right through the ceiling and into the sky, and you never look at your father the same way again.
It’s one of the most difficult rites of passage for any child to go through. One day your father is a flawless protector who can do no wrong, and the next day his body is blasting right through the roof of your house after an insanely powerful uppercut from champion boxer Muhammad Ali.
This can happen at any time. For some people, it happens when they’re very young. Others don’t have to watch their father leave a body-shaped hole in their ceiling until they’re in their early teens. When it happens, though, the way you think about your father—and the world—changes forever.
One day your father is a flawless protector who can do no wrong, and the next day his body is blasting right through the roof of your house after an insanely powerful uppercut from champion boxer Muhammad Ali.
I was 9 years old the first time Muhammad Ali came to my house, uppercutted my father through the ceiling, and sent him disappearing into the clouds, and I’ll never forget it. I stood there in my pajamas and watched the whole thing unfold. I was too young to understand what was happening at the time, but I knew that something had changed.
By the time my dad finally crashed back down through the ceiling and destroyed our coffee table five hours later, I wasn’t a little boy anymore—I was a young man.
Because that’s the moment you become aware that your father isn’t perfect. He’s a human being with flaws and fears, just like everyone else. You realize that your father can feel scared; he can make mistakes; he can be sent careening over the horizon thanks to a powerful uppercut from the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time; he can feel sad; and sometimes, he can even cry.
You spend your childhood thinking that your father has the whole world figured out. You think that nothing can possibly hurt you because your father can fight off any danger. But when you’re watching your dad kick his legs frantically around in the air after a skillful blow from Muhammad Ali embeds the top half of his body in the ceiling, you finally see the world for what it really is. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but it’s inevitable, and there’s no going back.