Muhammad Ali: The Greatest
Muhammad Ali is one of the most iconic figures of 20th century. He was the Boxing heavyweight world champion for long. In this blog I do not want to talk about his Boxing but how he was prepared to risk everything for what he believed in and why he is an inspiration for me and also why democratic America remains an attractive destination for people.
Muhammad Ali heard his Conscience
Ali, former name Cassius Clay, had won the Olympic Gold medal in 1960 and become the world champion in 1964. He adopted Islam because he resented the disparity existing in the Christian society in his hometown in America in the early 1960s. In 1967 he was sentenced to jail and lost his status as the world champion for his refusal to fight the Vietnam War.
This is what Ali had to say, “My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people or some poor, hungry people in the mud, for big, powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger. They never lynched me. They didn’t put no dogs on me. They didn’t rob me of my nationality, and rape and kill my mother and father. Why would I want to—shoot them for what? I got to go shoot them, those little poor little black people, little babies and children, women; how can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail”.
He did not go to prison, but was forced to wait for four years before regaining his Boxing license. In 1974 he regained the world championship.
Before his fight in Zaire, this is what he said, “Yeah, I’m in Africa. Yeah, Africa is my home. Damn America and what America thinks. Yeah, I live in America, but Africa is the home of the black man, and I was a slave 400 years ago, and I’m going back home to fight among my brothers”.
During a visit to two Palestinian refugee camps in Southern Lebanon, Ali said, “In my name and the name of all Muslims in America, I declare support for the Palestinian struggle to liberate their homeland and oust the Zionist invaders.” His words were totally against the policies of the American government.
In 1990, Muhammad Ali travelled to Baghdad and met with Saddam Hussein against the wishes of the U.S. government. During the trip, he secured the release of 15 Americans being held by the Iraqi government.
Why US despite Flaws Deserves Respect
Muhammad Ali was given the honour to light the flame at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
After his death in 2016 two banners flanked his funeral service: The American flag and the Olympic flag.
And yes no one in America called Muhammad Ali anti-national.