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Ali, a flawed human being

Reader comment on item: Muhammad Ali's "Beautiful Soul"

Submitted by nicolas (United States), Jan 11, 2009 at 23:32

Ali's greatest contribution to boxing is that his notoriety allowed other black fighters to get a shot at the title, so hated was he by the main establishment. When he had fought Liston the first time, many hoped he would win but did not give him a chance. When his being a black Muslim came out, he was the villain, and Liston the hero. Up till that time, if you were a black champion, you mostly fought whites in defending your title.

Look at Joe Louis, Floyd Patterson, and even Joe Frazier after him. In fact, of the six title defenses that Rocky Marciano made, four were against black fighters. Louis made on three defenses against such fighters in 25 defenses. Until Ali came along, Marciano held the record for most defenses against a black fighter. Ali broke that record with his fifth defense against Zorra Folley, and had defended against four white fighters as well.

In his defense, he said that George Chuvalo was the toughest guy he ever fought, and he had never been hit so hard until that time by one shot which Henry Copper did, knocking him almost out. Both were white fighters. He gave great praise to the Canadian people when he fought Chuvalo up in Canada, and was very cordial to the Irish when he fought there, sometime in between the Frazier and Foreman fights. somewhat bringing up his Irish roots. He was great friends with Elivis Presley, who some accused also of being racist. When the black Muslims earlier wanted him to get rid of Angelo Dundee, Ali stuck by his white trainer, like Schmelling with his Jewish trainer when the Nazis wanted him to "get rid of the Jew" Dundee, who seemed closer in public to Leonard, in his biography, said that Ali showed more loyalty to him than Leonard did.

When Howard Cossell passed away, ALI was at his funeral services. I don't think he ever forgot what Cossel, a Jewish person did. Howard got death threats from people for supporting Ali during the Viet Nam war era. Cossell I'm sure always got first choice when Ali was going to be interviewed. He praised opponents like Joe Bugner, and even went to visit Gerry Cooney, claiming that Cooney might be the next heavy weight champion. Also met privately and was very gracious to Gerrie Coetzee, the white South African who became briefly a WBA heavy weight champion.

Does this sound like a racist? Yes what he did to Joe Frazier was wrong. He was very insensitive to the fact how Frazier would be perceived in the black community. Ironically Frazier had grown up black and poor, while Ali (Clay) had accually grown up more middle class. He felt that he was selling tickets he claims, and latter he paid tribute to Frazier in the late 80's in a TV interview. Saying that Frazier pushed him so hard, that he became a better boxer and fighter because of that.

Don't forget that Floyd Patterson, before their fight, had said he was going to get the heavy weight title back for America. When Patterson had fought George Chuvalo before that comment, he was full of praise for Patterson during the fight, and showed no animosity towards Patterson until the "America comment" was raised.

I don't think he was as intelligent as some make him out. If he made racist remarks like he did, he certainly needs to atone for that, esspecially in regards to his calling for the lynching of integrated couples. He was however a product of his times. He knew racism, and joined the Black Muslims because of that. However, he is not associated with Louis Farahkan. In 1984 he supported Ronald Regan for president.

His comments about the dictator of Zaire, one of the most brutal and oppresive people in history showed his bias, and unfortunate lack of knowledge. Perhaps he thought he was being diplomatic when he praised the Soviet Union when he visited that country. According to a woman on another site, she claims she was a waitress, he did drink alcohol, liked Rum and coke she claimed. Was really phony in regards to his religion, much like Mike Tyson.

Like it or not, he is the US most famous athlete of all time around the world. Should he get an award such as he received from Bush. Probably most of those who do get these awards don't really deserve them anyway. Ironically this shows how much of a hypocrite George W. Bush was, probably never liked the man. I have to say I always rooted against Ali in his fights. However, I have to give him credit, he was perhaps the greatest heavyweight of all time, a true American Icon. His impact on world sports and American sports is unrivaled. He did not have a compaisionate soul, and he was not a man of world peace, that is garbage. He certainly had some racisim in him as has been shown, sadly brought out by anger. If he is still the same way as he was as a young man, then he is a racist now. However, as he has gotten older, and realized his mortality, stuck with his Parkinson Disease, I would be shocked that he is the same person of some 33 years ago.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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