Muhammad Ali & the World’s Shortest Poem


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about listening to Muhammad Ali fights on the radio.

As you might guess, I’m a fan of Ali. His pre-fight poetic predictions were renowned and have yet to be topped in the world of sports promotion (“He must fall in eight, to prove I am great.”)

However, one of Ali’s best poems was his shortest. In fact it should stand as the shortest poem in history. It’s shorter than the poem that is often cited as being the shortest. That poem, by Strickland Gillilan, is:

Adam Had’em

Ali presented his poem at at the commencement of their senior graduating class at Harvard University. It was given off-the-cuff in response to a request for a poem from a student.

As with most poetry, it is open to interpretation. To me, it’s a poem that speaks of unity and togetherness. Of the power of a group to institute change (it was during the turbulent 60’s). And of how an individual can play an important role within the context of a larger group. To me, it was a brilliant poem, made even more thought-provoking by its brevity.

The poem occurred at the conclusion of a speech in which Ali had urged the graduates to use their education to go out and change the world. At that point, a student shouted through the applause: “Give us a poem!”

As the crowd quieted, Ali said “ME…WE!”

And that’s it. “Me….We.” It was the shortest, and to me, one of the most evocative poems in sport history.


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]sports,Muhammad Ali,boxing,poems[/tags]

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