For as long as I can remember I’ve been deeply inspired by Muhammad Ali. It’s not his cockiness, his life decisions or even his skill in the ring. I am inspired by Ali’s heart.

Oct. 30, 1974, was the date of one of the greatest moments in sports history — the famous Rumble in the Jungle.

In a shocking upset, Ali regained his title as heavyweight champion by defeating the heavily favored George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire. Today, if I could choose one moment in time and travel there, it would be a toss-up between the signing of the Declaration of Independence and Ali dropping Foreman in the eighth round.

At 32 years old, Ali was long past his prime and his legs had lost much of their bounce. But he was seasoned. He knew Foreman was all about the knockout, winning fights mostly within the first three rounds. Ali saw an opportunity to outlast Foreman, and he capitalized on it.

Rather than trying to win early on, Ali famously allowed Foreman to punch himself out, even making comments like, “Is that all you got? That didn’t hurt.” Foreman threw hundreds of punches, but as the rounds ticked by he grew tired, and the blows began to decrease in precision and potency. Ali fought flat-footed, toughing it out on the ropes, moment by painful moment, until Foreman was completely exhausted.

In the eighth, Ali finished him off, validating himself as the greatest fighter who ever lived.

Like anyone else, I’ve experienced tough times over the course of my life. Family problems, a divorce, health issues and so on. But through it all I’ve kept the image of Ali in my mind, his aging body back against the ropes as Foreman’s terrible blows rained down on him. And I hear the man say, “Is that all you got?” I’ve said it myself at various times, aloud, for courage. “Is that all you got?”

But Ali’s inspiration is personal to me. In this issue, we wanted to discover who motivates the professionals in the pool and spa industry, and why. The answer lies in these pages: Fourteen stories of historic greatness that have served as a series of North Stars for a variety of industry leaders and luminaries.

In my eight years with this magazine, I can’t remember having more fun planning and editing an issue. The stories are incredible, the artwork is among the best we have ever produced, and the writing is top-notch. Enjoy!