• Lt. Tim McMillan (Ret.)

One Simple Act of Kindness

By Lt. Tim McMillan

In 1954, a white Louisville, Kentucky Police Officer named Joe E. Martin was approached by a scrawny 12-year-old black kid, who was upset that someone had stolen his bike. The young man told Officer Martin that he wanted to "whup" the thief. Officer Martin's reply was, "well you better learn how to box first." Officer Martin wasn't being condescending when he suggested the young man should learn how to box. See, coincidentally, Officer Martin was also a boxing coach. So in the Deep South, in a time when racial segregation was the norm, Officer Martin was extending an offer to teach this young African American kid how to box. So on a random rainy evening, in 1954 a friendship and mentorship between a white police officer/boxing coach and a young black kid was born.  It could be said that the entire encounter would never have happened had it not been for the selfish act of someone stealing that young man's bike.  However, the most important act that day was sprung from the selflessness of Officer Martin and his willingness to want to help this young kid out, at a time when it was not celebrated to be white and help a minority out. It could be said that a 1000 selfless acts can go unnoticed, but it only takes but one to change the world. Four years later, Officer Martin would find himself in Rome, Italy at the 1960 Olympics coaching that same young man he met that fateful evening. The now 18-year old young man, would go on to win a gold medal in the Light Heavyweight division of that year's summer Olympics. By the fall of 1960, that young man would turn pro as a boxer. By 22-years-old by he would already be a heavyweight world champion. Ultimately, that same young man would end up being one of the most celebrated sports figures in history and arguably the greatest boxer of all time. That skinny young African American kid that Officer Martin agreed to help that fateful evening was named Cassius Clay. A name that is highly recognizable even today. Which is a testament to how significant this young man was to the world, because in 1964, after converting to Islam, Cassius changed his name, to name he would come to be known around the world. See, that skinny young kid that had his bike stolen was Muhammad Ali. So never let your own ego cause you to be consumed with a "what's in it for me" attitude. Because, no matter who you are or where you find yourself, you always have the power to change the world. Because a 1000 selfless acts of kindness can go unnoticed, but it only takes but one. 

Tim McMillan is a retired police lieutenant and investigative intelligence analyst; and holds BA's in mathematics and cognitive psychology. Primarily, focusing on the Defense and Intelligence Communities, he now uses his unique background, coupled with a willingness to examine any mystery, to deliver groundbreaking investigative reporting. Tim is a contributor for The War Zone, Vice, and Popular Mechanics

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