If that question surprises you, it is probably because you don’t know as much about Ali as you thought you did.
Muhammad Ali died in June 2016 at 74, a fair but by no means great age. He is best remembered as a three times heavyweight champion of the world. The above photograph was taken at a London book signing in June 1992. In addition to his celebrity status, Ali was an active human rights campaigner. Not in the fashion of Black Lives Matter – making common cause with self-styled anti-fascist thugs to bring mayhem and looting to our streets, but in making a defiant stand against war.
At the height of his career, Ali was called up for the US Army, which at that time was heavily involved in the Vietnam War. He won the title for the first time aged 22, and was an active champion, defending against all comers, but two years later after refusing to be drafted to kill people he didn’t know and with whom he had no argument, he was stripped of his title. This led to a protracted legal battle and to his touring the country giving speeches, mostly to leftists.
Undoubtedly he realised if he had entered the US Army he would have been given a soft job as a sports coach or something of that nature. The top brass would never have let him see combat. The previous decade, Elvis Presley had been so drafted, had an easy time in West Germany, and was discharged with the rank of sergeant. Ali was nothing if not principled though.
After his victory over Sonny Liston in 1964, Cassius Marcellus Clay Junior as he was then known announced he was changing his name to Muhammad Ali and professed his loyalty to the Nation Of Islam, which was then headed by Elijah Muhammad. The NOI has been headed since 1978 by the charismatic Louis Farrakhan, a man who is frequently misunderstood and even more frequently traduced. The Nation Of Islam is a racial separatist movement, and in 1971, when he visited England, Muhammad Ali made his views on race plain. They can be summed up in the phrase bluebirds fly with bluebirds.
If Black Lives Matter were to be consistent, they would demand his statues be taken down too, like the one in Liverpool, England, or even the one in Louisville, Kentucky, the city of his birth. If they did that though, they would surely lose all popular support, but don’t be too surprised if some lunatic who hasn’t read their Communist script comes up with this or a similar idea; they’re already coming for Gandhi.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.