of my favourite people is Muhammad Ali.
He's a person who lived true to himself and to peace. He defied
the US government in his refusal to be inducted into the army
to fight a war that was both against his religion (at the time,
the Nation of Islam) and his personal belief ('I ain't got no
quarrel with them Vietcong.')
What can you give me, America, for turning down my
religion? How can I lose for standing up for Islam when presidents
and princes invite me to their countries, when little people all
over the East and Africa stop me in the street to say "Eat
at my house, brother, be an honor if you stay with us, brother?"
You want me to give up all this love, America? You
want me to do what the white man says and go fight a war against
some people I don't know nothing about-get some freedom for some
other people when my own people can't get their's here?
You want me to be so scared of the white man I'll
go and get two arms shot off and 10 medals so you can give me
a small salary and pat my head and say, "Good boy, he fought
for his country?" Every day, they die in Vietnam for nothing.
I might as well die right here for something.
His trainer Angelo Dundee's official statement on Ali's position
"I'm not in any position to say what was right and what was
wrong about his stand on the draft. All I know is that it cost
him a heck of a lot more to stick to what he believes than it
will ever cost most men."
The cost? He was stripped of his title as World Champion, his
passport was revoked, and he was indicted by the US Justice Department
on a felony charge. Eventually, he fought his way back. Over the
course of 2 1/2 years, the people of America's view changed from
seeing him as a traitor to respecting his position as the war
dragged on. His professional status was reinstated allowing him
to box again. His court case went to the US Supreme court where
he won by a unanimous decision; the government could not force
him to war due to his religious belief. He fought his way back
to World Champion. All through out his career, he was a charming
and entertaining brat with a good heart! How could someone not
Now, boxing and anti-war seem to be antithetical. I'm not really
sure how it works out. Part of it is the lack of government involvement.
It is two individuals choosing to 'fight it out', not being ordered
to kill. I can't say I'm a big fan of boxing but I do know in
previous decades, boxing was an incredibly respected, 'manly'
sport. Football has taken it's place. I'd rather watch boxing
any day! 2 individuals, fighting one on one, nearly naked versus
a bunch of guys wearing padding and steel head banging each other.
It seems much more real.
Muhammad Ali may have retired from boxing but he has never stopped
vocalizing his concern for humanitarian causes, most recently
posting a statement on the tsunami.
He has won awards and titles beyond boxing. He has a personal
webpage, visit him! Muhammad Ali
Another way I respect Muhammad Ali is his struggle with Parkinson's
disease. I've heard there was talk of it relating to boxing injuries.
I don't know if this is true. My grandmother had Parkinson's disease.
As far as I know, she never boxed, but she was the greatest! She
spent the last 10 or so years in a wheelchair, needing assistance
for most activities. Her mind was active but she was physically
disintegrating. It was difficult for a proud woman and it humbled
And as I write this, I find out that tomorrow, January 17, is
Muhammad Ali's birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!