As many of you already have heard, Muhammad Ali passed away earlier today. He was an inspiration to many, and on so much more than just a “fighting” level. Yes, he was a boxer, and an incredible one at that, but he was also a human rights advocate. The battles he fought were conducted in more arenas than a boxing ring.
He stood up for equal rights, and publicly spoke out against racism in a time when it was dangerous to do so. He refused to participate in the Vietnam war and encouraged others to do the same. Although Ali was a a man of violence inside the ring, he worked non-violently for peace and justice outside of it. He was an inspiration to countless individuals, myself included.
If you mention Muhammad Ali, one thing will come to mind about his personality- he had a very flamboyant and egotistical manner of speaking. He had a reason for being that way, and it might not be what you think. Of course, he was the greatest boxer of his time (and probably all time) so he mentioned that fact whenever he had the chance.
But, he also used his fame and eccentricity to publicly denounce the amount of money being funded for war, the mandatory involvement in the Vietnam war, racism, and militarism. Ali spoke about the relation of the federal taxes he paid and his disagreement with how the U.S. government was disbursing those enormous funds, by saying,
“I buy a lot of bullets, at least three jet bombers a year, and pay the salary of fifty thousand fighting men with the money they take from me after my fights.”
Muhammad Ali refused to participate in the Vietnam war, even after being told that defying the draft would cause his career to fall apart, and probably land him in jail. Part of that turned out to be true. In 1967 Ali was arrested and sentenced to 5 years in prison. The decision was overturned in 1970, and after spending 3 years in prison, Ali was reinstated as the world heavyweight champion by the World Boxing Organization. This is what Ali said when he was asked to explain his stance on the Vietnam war, Continue reading