Living The Green Platform

Chapter One

Chapter One


Create successful ePaper yourself

Turn your PDF publications into a flip-book with our unique Google optimized e-Paper software.






The Miracle Walks

Of Ali And Alex

DEEP and lasting change is a heroic journey. Sometimes in our

efforts to complete a particular journey in our life, we bite off

more than we can chew and end up disappointed when we fail.

Other times, though we find the hero inside ourselves and this

is witnessed in the growing numbers who are exercising at a time

when ironically we also see a huge rise in obesity in our country.

Everything is relative — for some a 5k or a 10k might be that

goal to feel good and for others, it might be to complete shorter,

personal journeys that are absolutely immense victories for them.

I’ve seen some of those achievements by people over the years

where these journeys were completed with both courage and

conviction. Some were just over 26 miles long and others were only

five steps long.

I had the privilege of introducing the great Muhammad Ali to

an Irish audience in Dublin at a charity dinner organised by Dr

Pearse Lyons, president and founder of the Alltech company

some years ago.

I was with the great boxing legend and his wife, Lonnie,

backstage as the MC was talking to the audience. Ali was sitting

in a chair, shaking with his Parkinson’s disease. My script was

simple. Just say, with as much power and passion as possible: “And

now, ladies and gentlemen, a big warm Irish céad míle fáilte for

the greatest, Muhammad Ali.”

The directions were clear. Give Ali the nod to stand up and walk



to the curtain as I was bellowing out, boxing ring-like, the


I looked at Ali and nodded to be sure he was okay. He nodded

back. When he stood up, he smiled. Chin up. Head back. He was

ready. As he started to walk, I began my introduction. I could have

been in Madison Square Garden introducing a world

championship fight. But I saw clearly within a millisecond that

my speaking was much quicker than Ali’s ability to put one foot

past the other.

I just got as far as saying: “And now ladies and gentlemen a big

warm Irish céad míle fáilte for …” but Ali had only moved two steps.

His jaw was square. He had that same steely determination he

needed in those nights he fought Joe Frazier, George Foreman and

Sonny Liston. He had refused to use a wheelchair and was fighting

harder than he did against those opponents inside the ring to walk

out and greet his Dublin audience.

He had moved only two steps, and I was stuck. I had totally

overestimated his walking speed. He takes the third step and I say:

“A living legend.” I pause. He takes a fourth step. I go on: “The most

recognised face on the planet …” and then he takes his fifth step

and just before he splits the curtain I say: “The greatest,

Muhammad Ali.”

He got a standing ovation. The longest one I’ve ever seen or

heard. By the time it was over he had been helped to a chair where

he was happy to sit down.

Those five steps had taken an awful lot out of him but he has

been fighting for a bigger cause than just a boxing payday for these

past three decades since he retired.

His wife, Lonnie, said that boxing was only ever a vehicle for

him to do what he’s doing now; raising millions for his charity as

he continues to encourage every man, woman and child in the world

to be the greatest they can be.

I was humbled to be beside him as he completed those five steps

with immense courage and conviction. In those five steps, I saw



the ‘Rumble in the Jungle,’ and the ‘Thrilla in Manila’. He did it not

because he had to do it but because he wanted to do it. It gives him

purpose and meaning every day. With those five steps he

conquered yet again his personal Everest.

Alexander is our third child. He has a rare medical condition

called Mowat-Wilson syndrome. He was the first child in Ireland

discovered to be suffering from it as a baby.

He is now 11 years old. He will never talk. He can do a little walk

if heavily assisted by Annette, his mother, or Genevieve or Fionn

(his sister and brother) or by his godmother, Mary, or his visiting

nurse, Liz, who all help make his life so worthwhile.

He hasn’t eaten for over eight years because he gets his food

into his system through a tube into his stomach. He’s also doubly


We are all in awe of him in our house. He is the most magical

and magnetic child you could ever imagine. Every morning he goes

on his special bus to St Catherine’s in Newcastle, Co Wicklow where

the people there do amazing work with him and with all his

special needs friends.

Before Christmas a few years ago they even staged a nativity

play. Alexander was St Joseph. In the rehearsals, he was great at

knocking on the doors of inns that were full and closed to weary

travellers with a donkey.

However, during the play itself, as soon as he saw the audience

he became more interested in waving at us and clapping his

hands on the stage than knocking on inn doors.

All the actors in the nativity play had members of the staff

helping them move around as some were in wheelchairs and

some needed assistance to stand upright.

In the midst of it all, Alexander turned around and took off. He

walked five steps across the stage on his own. Unaided.

Jane, who looked after his class was so excited afterwards. “Did

you see him walking five steps on his own. Could you imagine him

doing anything like that last year?”



Like Ali, he conquered his own personal Everest that day in the

nativity play by walking those five steps.

So if you’ve given up on exercise or working harder to get

promotion or any other personal challenge, think of Ali and Alex

and then realise what you are capable of doing in your life.

Their ‘marathons’ were just five steps each but what a

magnificent achievement for the two of them. Your journey of 1,000

miles begins with just five steps.

In the book, The Green Platform, chapter 11 is about Alexander

and the positive impact he has on everyone he meets. The chapter

is called Meet Alexander the Greatest.

Every day is a new beginning only waiting for you to start your

own heroic journey and be inspired by “The Greatest, Muhammad

Ali” and “Alexander The Greatest” so that you too can become the

greatest you can be.

Red Platform: “What’s the point? It’s only five steps. Where’s

that wheelchair? Where’s Jane?”

Green Platform: Every step in the right direction matters.

Five or five thousand. “I can do it, one step at a time.”


Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!