According to media reports, brash and outspoken three-time heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, passed away from a respiratory infection early Saturday morning.
Ali, who was 74 at the time of his passing was a former 3-time world heavyweight boxing champion and regarded as the greatest heavyweight in history. Ali is also one of the greatest civil rights activists in American history.
Muhammad changed his name after he converted to Islam from Cassius Clay. After he became a Muslim he began to become an activist for the Black community as a result of becoming a member of the Nation of Islam. This is a Black Nationalist group that originally was based loosely on Islam but later began to bring in more of the teachings of Sunni Islam.
It is not certain if Muhammad Ali was a Sunni but it is certain that he has religious knowledge that is based upon Sunni Islam.
During the 1960 Summer Olympic games, Muhammad Ali won a gold medal in boxing when he was still known as Cassius Clay.
Ali then went on to defeat the feared Sonny Liston by knockout to both gain and then defend the heavyweight title. Ali would then later be stripped of his belt due to his refusal to participate in the Vietnam War. He did not believe that this was a just war and that Islam would not permit him to murder the Vietnamese. He said in a press conference that they never called him the ‘N’ word.
Ali was banned from boxing for a few years. However, Ali would return and claim the world championship two more times. Ali’s battles with Joe Frazier and George Foreman are legendary. However, Muhammad Ali fought longer than he should have and developed Parkinson’s disease at a young age. His match against Larry Holmes showed the world how fragile that Muhammad Ali had become and the man who was known as the greatest was a shell of his former self.
As a Muslim I can say that Muhammad Ali means a lot to our community. He had always been a voice for us when we feel like everyone hates us. When Muhammad Ali spoke, people listen. He was the first to bring up the concept of white privilege. Ali was very vocal about human rights and being good to others.
Even though he was loud and boisterous, he had a playful manner in marketing himself, he was a very serious man that reflected upon the conditions of the world. Ali has always felt that it was his duty to bring to light problems within American society in order to rectify them.
As a result, he was revered by the Blacks and hated by the Whites then but is universally loved and respected now.