Ali was the champ in every way. He was an awesome fighter, one of my favorites. He was a comedian, no one could match his loud mouthed bravado. He was one of the great entertainers of his time and in spite of all this he managed to be a kind and humble man.
Even after thirty some years of suffering with Parkinson’s Disease he remained so. He taught the world so many things while for years, he could hardly speak a word. He was a man . . . something the world these days is sadly much in need of, a man of integrity who was not afraid to speak out, a man who still knew how to think on his own, and act on his own. I have nothing but respect for the champ Muhammad Ali aka Cassius Clay.
Thinking about Ali after his death the other day I had many places to go. His great and entertaining fights mostly, but the one thing that jumps out at me was his experience with the draft board of this country, that during the time of rich kid deferments they somehow saw fit to draft the champion boxer of the world. I believe firstly it was a racist move and I believe secondly they wanted to use him and his fame for promotion of some sort . . . or maybe to entertain Westmoreland and his band of perfumed princes in Saigon. Who knows?
Following is a quote that I will take to the grave with me. Not so much because Ali defied the draft board, hell kids were piling across the borders in droves in those days. 1967 was not a good year for the youth of this country. You either went to Vietnam, daddy bought you out with deferments, or you ran away. Ali thought about it, made up his mind and acted, not out of fear for there is no way he would have ever done time in the jungle. He was slotted for entertainment . . . guaranteed. People thinking he was a coward are just fools.
Quote Mohammed Ali 1967:
Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No, I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people, or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom, and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.
To Ali . . . (a long and meaningful bow)