Ali has flown home
Martin Luther King Jr. influenced racial change in America.
However, Muhammad Ali influenced racial and religious change throughout the world. He challenged not just the other fierce opponents in the ring but the most feared country on Earth when he refused to go to the Vietnam conflict.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ali and restored his boxing career. Although a Muslim, he had friends of all faiths. He was a welcomed White House guest by all sitting presidents, and he was a close friend of the staunch conservative Sen. Orrin Hatch.
Ali convened a summit in Cleveland to announce his decision not to go to war. Athletes Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Jim Brown and others were by his side.
Russell was a tremendous rebounder, but so was Ali when he rebounded to beat Joe Frasier. Kareem’s sky hook was unstoppable, but Ali’s hook could be lethal. Brown was a running back with superior power in his legs, yet Ali used his legs to “float like a butterfly” and do the Ali shuffle. Jay Z can rap, but not like Ali.
The greatest of all time, just like a butterfly, has flown home.
He practiced true Islam
Some 20 years ago, he walked slowly to the prayer area at the new Louisville River Road Mosque — the most inspiring man, the most famous Muslim and the most famous athlete in the world in modern times. He walked in, took a place amongst us and then prostrated on the floor to Allah, God in English, just like the rest of us.
Muhammad Ali said that his Islamic faith would not allow him to kill innocent people on the other side of the world: “My intention is to box, to win a clean fight. But in war, the intention is to kill, kill, kill, kill, and continue killing innocent people.”
After the 9/11 attacks, Ali said: “Islam is peace, it is against killing, murder, and the terrorist and the people doing it in the name of Islam.”
This is the true Islam we introduce to those who visit our Islamic Center of Lexington. Islam never taught “kill other people” whether they are in a school, on a bus or at the fish market. It is clear al-Qaida or ISIS does not follow the same Islam you find in the Holy Quran and that which was understood by Ali and the rest of the 1.5 billion Muslims.
Rest in peace, Ali, as you continue to inspire.
A great American he wasn’t
Novelist Carlos Ruiz Zafon wrote, “When we stand in front of a coffin, we all see only what is good or what we want to see.”
The hyperbole that calls Muhammad Ali a “great American” follows that line of thinking.
A great boxer? Yes. A famous American? Yes. A great American? Hardly.
By refusing to serve his country when called, he failed to set an example for thousands of young men, who if asked, would also have said, “We ain’t got no quarrel with the Vietcong.” They served anyway, many giving their lives in the service of their country.
All Ali gave up was a few years of boxing. Many athletes have been called and served, sacrificing peak earning years and risking their lives. Ted Williams served two tours of duty during his baseball career.
Partially brain-impaired from boxing, perhaps worsened by his Parkinson’s disease, Ali traveled the world, idolized by many. For what?
It’s obvious that he was a showman and expert salesman. He deserves a place in history for his boxing and his brash personality, but great American, he was not. To put him on a level with Martin Luther King Jr. is ludicrous.
No use for draft dodger
Will you ever stop immortalizing Muhammad Ali, formerly known as Cassius Clay?
Am I the only person in Kentucky old enough to remember him and Malcolm X hating white people? But dodging the draft puts him in a class with “Hanoi Jane” Fonda and I personally have no use for either.