Never before has there been a man bold enough to declare himself “The Greatest” yet mighty enough to truly deserve the title. And never again will a man like this live.
Muhammad Ali, three-time heavy weight boxing champion and civil right activist, passed on Friday June 3, 2016 after frequent hospital stints. On Monday, Ali was admitted for respiratory problems and as the days progressed, his health weakened. Surrounded by his children and wife, the family held hands and embraced their father while chanting Islamic prayers. According to his daughter Hana, Ali’s heart amazingly continued to beat a half hour after all his organs failed. She tweeted; believing this to be “a true testament to the strength of his Spirit and Will!”
Even in his final months, Ali remained the outspoken man of his youth. Nearly 50 years after criticizing the United Sates government, the military draft, and society as a whole with the subsequent declaration:
“I ain’t got nothing against no Viet Cong; no Viet Cong never called me nigger”,
Ali once again yielded his sharp tongue.
Recently, not one to shy away from controversy, Ali called out reality star turned presidential candidate, Donald Trump and his proposed bans against Muslims. In a public statement, the activist echoed his long held stance on Islam as a peaceful religion.
“We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda,” Ali said. “They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody.”
Additionally, he confronted Trump for exploiting religion, specifically Islam, and using it as a tactic.
“Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is,”
His recent remarks solidified his legacy as a symbol of force, conscious thought, and power. His legacy broke down barriers and entered new racial, political, and civil territory. In the ring, clad in gloves, his fights were entertaining displays of agility. However, the battles outside the ring were important exhibitions of activism and conviction. To call Muhammad Ali the world’s greatest boxer is to sell him short of his lifetime achievements. To remain unapologetically black and Muslim, even when society tried to force his back against the ropes, that is what made him the greatest.
His family released a public statement that fully encompassed his legacy.
“Muhammad Ali was truly the people’s champion and the celebration will reflect his devotion to people of all races, religions and backgrounds. Muhammad’s extraordinary boxing career only encompassed half of his life. The other half was committed to sharing a message of peace and inclusion with the world. Following his wishes, his funeral will reflect those principles, and be a celebration open to everyone.”