Muhammad Ali: Leo Rising
Self-named, self-invented, self-motivated, champion boxer Muhammad Ali was a modern embodiment of the archetype of hero. He was charismatic, strong, graceful, poetic in speech, courageous in deed. He spoke up for the millions and laughed at the powerful. He took his punishment squarely and came back to defeat his enemies. He was brave and inventive.
Here is Leo Rising: the sign of the king on the Ascendant.
“It’s hard to be humble, when you’re as great as I am.”
He was also playful, cheeky, brash and boastful and sometimes cruel as a child. Again Leo Rising.
“It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”
So the golden Sun rules the chart from the sign of Capricorn — cardinal earth — often a physically strong placement. Capricorn Sun can take a beating. And Ali’s Sun is pivotal in a wonderful earth Grand Trine that dominates his chart, connecting glamorous, smooth Neptune in Virgo (poetry), Uranus (surprise attack) in Taurus and that Sun. That Neptune combined with Leo Rising gave Ali his shine. He was never just a boxer, he was always a superstar.
Muhammad Ali made his name as “the Greatest” heavy-weight boxer in the world. But here’s something he said about boxing.
“They don’t look at fighters to have brains. They don’t look at fighters to be businessmen, or human, or intelligent. Fighters are just brutes that come to entertain the rich white people. Beat up on each other and break each other’s noses, and bleed, and show off like two little monkeys for the crowd, killing each other for the crowd. And half the crowd is white. We’re just like two slaves in that ring. The masters get two of us big old black slaves and let us fight it out while they bet: ‘My slave can whup your slave.’ That’s what I see when I see two black people fighting.” — Muhammad Ali in 1970, at the height of his boxing career
The irony is that Muhammad Ali’s mind was his biggest asset. He could outthink and outtalk his opponents. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Like many heroes — Odysseus, Perseus — he was part trickster; he had both a silver-tongue and a cunning that flowed as smooth as honey from a silver spoon. The Mercury-Moon conjunction is often exceptionally intelligent — and in airy Aquarius (a brainy sign) even more so — and there’s the Venus to add sweetness of delivery. When the Moon and Mercury work together like this, instinct and intelligence are as one. Add a perfect trine from expansive Jupiter in Gemini, and you get Ali’s torrent of brilliant words. His verbal prowess overwhelmed his opponents before, during and after each match. And during the years he was banned from boxing he made speeches around the United States against the Vietnam War and in favour of civil rights.
Like a real hero, Muhammad Ali set an example by his deeds. He said he would win and he did; he said he would not join the army and he did not. He got rid of his “slave name”, Cassius Clay, when Pluto, the planet of rising from the ashes, transited his North Node. Almost single-handedly, he gave African-American men back their dignity (stolen by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow) — and he did this by emulating no one, but by being entirely, utterly, deeply Muhammad Ali. Again this is the right journey for Leo Rising, balanced in his case by the stellium in popular Aquarius.
“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
Ali’s Venus in Aquarius finds beauty in patterns. He was a dancing fighter, like a toreador. Venus (grace) is in mutual reception with both Saturn (ambition) and Uranus (surprise) both in heavy, earthy Taurus. Venus conjuncts Moon-Mercury so again we might expect dexterity. It’s right on the Descendant too, opposite the will-filled Leo Rising. Saturn (rules) and Uranus (rule-changing), the two rulers of Aquarius are working together — so he played within the rules of boxing, but he played differently, and when he was never tried to dodge the draft, he simply refused to be drafted.
“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”
Mars, his physicality, is in Taurus — a boxer’s placement (“Raging Bull”), and it is making a tight aspect to Pluto. This square is a killer punch. The planets in Taurus give stamina. Ali said fighting Frazier in Manila was like going to hell and back. This is the realm of Pluto, of course, but look at Ali’s Part of Fortune. By going to hell — the boxing ring — he brought back a fortune. He made a lot of money boxing.
At the peak of his celebrity, Muhammad Ali was probably the most famous man in the world. In the 1970s and 1980s, his image was everywhere from Cape Town to Cairo, from Manila to Cuba. People who could not read or write recognised his picture and knew his story. Muhammad Ali was a hero in what was then called the Third World. Here was a man of colour, who had defied the American government, the most powerful in the world, by refusing to serve in their army in a neo-colonial war — “Vietcong ain’t never called me nigger” — and won. Ali, then a very young man, made the connection between American racism and the Vietnam War, a connection which took others much longer to grasp.
Chiron, the asteroid of the wound, is in the house of the collective in Ali’s chart, and directly opposite his most personal planet, the Moon. This is the tightest aspect in his chart. Ali carried a wound for men emasculated by racism, colonialism, class — and set an example of healing. He healed it with Leo pride.
Like all proper heroes, Ali was flawed. Sometimes his trash talk was just trash, and perhaps he should have stopped boxing earlier, but what a man, what a life. Has there been another sports champion as clever, as beautiful and as articulate?
“What I suffered physically was worth what I’ve accomplished in life. A man who is not courageous enough to take risks will never accomplish anything in life.”
For a really interesting article at Capricorn Research on boxing and astrology, click here. It includes a further discussion of Muhammad Ali’s chart.
Paul Saunders at Solaris Astrology wrote a good piece on Ali — here.