Monday, June 6, 2016

The Passing of Muhammad Ali

The passing of Muhammad Ali over the weekend has generated a huge amount of news coverage, both in the established media outlets of print, TV and radio, and on the the social networks of twitter, facebook, etc.  While certainly not surprising considering his multi-decade fight against Parkinson's Disease, it is still a shock when a sports hero of such fame and accomplishment leaves us.

For me, Ali was always the foil against Joe Frazier, perhaps more so than for most people as I was born and raised in Philadelphia and its suburbs.  I can still remember my disappointment when Ali was victorious in the Thrilla in Manilla, that iconic battle that will be forever remembered in boxing history.  Ali personified the outspoken athlete in those days, dancing and taunting his opponents until he surprised them with his strength and punching power.  Frazier won with grit and guts, relentlessly taking the best punch his opponents could muster until unleashing one of his devastating hooks to the jaw.

For me, Frazier was the man of the people, Ali the braggart, the showman.

Later, as an adult, I realized that while Ali's career as a boxer was and will always be legendary, his stature as a man was even more heroic.  I was a bit too young to fully understand the ramifications of his suspension from boxing for failure to report for military duty.  My perspective was mostly colored by the adults in my life who condemned him for his perceived lack of patriotism, at best, cowardice at worst.  Perhaps that is part of why I rooted against Ali during the years after his suspension was overturned by the Supreme Court.  I can distinctly recall listening to the fight in Zaire, and being crushed when Ali beat George Foreman so easily.

But as time passed, I was able to gain a more adult perspective of Ali's resistance to enlisting during the Vietnam War.  Clearly, like any protester, Ali was well within his rights to express his opinion that the war in Southeast Asia was morally indefensible.  But what is most impressive, is that unlike the vast majority of Americans protesting that war, Ali put his money where his mouth was.  He was at the peak of his manhood, late 20's, looking at many more chances to earn a lifetime of money, and cement his legacy as the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time, yet he walked away from it.  How many of us would do the same today?

What is most striking to me about that time in history, is that Ali was not the only athlete or person of fame who converted to Islam.  Others, not as famous, but still in the public eye did the same, many of those also to the detriment of their careers.  The teachings of Mohammad, and the spirit of Islam motivated those people to swim against the stream and embrace a religion that was not considered American.  How Ali lived his life during those times, and after as his mind began to betray him, only he and his god know for sure but the multitude of stories I have heard seem to indicate that his public demeanor as the "greatest", included the willingness to be among the public, the everyday men, women and children who he encountered.

Now, of course, Islam is perceived in an entirely different light.  Where we once scorned those who chose that religion over a Christian one, as cowards, only fifty years later we now perceive many of that faith as terrorists.  I imagine that, as is usually the case, the truth is somewhere in between.  But one thing is for sure, the persona created by Muhammad Ali, the incredible combination of killer in the ring and gentleman outside it, will never be repeated.


  1. My God most Marxists you just NEVER get tired of praising and eulogizing the utter dregs of American society, do you?
    Mohammed Ali was a racist who hated Whites, gays and Jews, and I only mention this because it's always the Liberals who pretend to rail about racism and "homophobia"...except, of course, when it's one of their chosen non-white dupes who is being racist and "homophobic".
    I have NO DOUBT that after seeing the videos below you'll make pathetic excuses for Ali's vile remarks like a good little bolshevic. What you won't be is man enough to write an addendum to your article and rescind what you said due to racism being disgusting and INEXCUSABLE no matter WHO displays it.
    Muhammad Ali was a RACIST -- And That's A-OK!

    Muhammed Ali blaims all white people for homosexuals:

    Muhammad Ali speaks against racial mixing:

  2. Nicholai, here's some more information for the sleazy communist Joe to read. Like a red coward he's silent, hiding from the truth like a cockroach hides from light (as if the truth does not exist if you run from it):