Tag Archives: Muhammad Ali

This Day. Muhammad Ali takes his stand

Pele and Muhammad Ali

On June 20, 1967, the great Muhammad Ali was convicted in Houston for refusing induction in the U.S. armed forces.

Ali saw the war in Vietnam as an exercise in genocide. He also used his platform as boxing champion to connect the war abroad with the war at home, saying, “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?”

For these statements, as much as the act itself, Judge Joe Ingraham handed down the maximum sentence to Cassius Clay (as they insisted upon calling him in court): five-years in a federal penitentiary and a $10,000 fine.

Ali’s refusal to be drafted was an inspiring moment for many of us.

– Dougal MacDonald

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Tribute to Muhammad Ali (January 17, 1942 – June 4, 2016)

On June 4, 2016, Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century passed away in a Phoenix, Arizona hospital. He had been admitted earlier in the week with respiratory problems and after almost three decades of struggle against Parkinson’s disease. He stopped breathing just after midnight on June 4.

Born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky in 1942, he came to prominence at the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960 when he won the gold medal in the 175 lb. (light heavyweight) category.

His brilliant skill and boxing style was immediately recognized internationally and his successes inside the ring were matched throughout his life with his uncompromising stands against racism and his defence of the right to conscience and against unjust wars of aggression. This won him great acclaim from the world’s peoples outside the ring long after he retired from boxing.

He then won the world heavyweight championship three times. In 1964, shortly after winning the title fight against Sonny Liston, he announced that he had joined the Nation of Islam, adopted the Muslim faith and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali with Malcolm X. Ali would later state that his break with Malcolm was one of his greatest regrets.

At the height of his boxing career he took a brave stand against the U.S. war of aggression in Vietnam by refusing induction into the US army. Refusing induction orders was a felony in the U.S. and he was criminally charged and stripped of all his boxing titles. His boxing license was suspended and in 1967 he was put on trial and found guilty.

Ali’s courageous stand came right in the midst of the rising anti-war movement in the U.S. and worldwide, and his active opposition to U.S. military aggression in Vietnam and elsewhere was a great contribution to the movement of the people in defence of their rights.

April 29, 1967 press conference where Ali announced that he would not take part in U.S. aggression in Vietnam | AFP

Ali actively fought against the violation of his right to conscience. At one of the public rallies organized in his defence he said, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home to 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?”

After a four-year battle the U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, reversed the conviction. Muhammad Ali not only returned to boxing but continued to speak out against racial oppression in the U.S. and many other human rights and social issues.

When he retired from boxing Ali had an incredible record of 56 wins in 61 bouts. Even though many of his fights will be remembered as the most skillful and exciting boxing exhibitions ever seen, his greatest successes came outside the ring. His uncompromising stands in defence of rights made him one of the most popular and beloved personalities all over the world.

Muhammad Ali earned the deep respect of oppressed people around the world, who saw him as a man of principle who was not afraid of turning his words into deeds and fighting on the side of the people.

Muhammad Ali with Fidel Castro

– In His Own Words, April 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.

Muhammad Ali told a press conference in Beirut in March, 1974 at the start of a tour of the Middle East, that ‘the United States is the stronghold of Zionism and imperialism.’ On a visit to two Palestinian refugee camps in southern Lebanon (pictured), he was quoted by a guerrilla news agency as saying: ‘I declare support for the Palestinian struggle to liberate their homeland and oust the Zionist invaders.’ In 1985 he travelled to Israel in an attempt to secure the release of Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners held by the Israeli regime.

Source: CPC(M-L)

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Eduardo Galeano: Ali

Galeano.MirrorsHe was butterfly and bee. In the ring, he floated and stung.

In 1967, Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay, refused to put on a uniform.

“Got nothing against no Viet Cong,” he said. “Ain’t no Vietnamese ever called me nigger.”

They called him a traitor. They sentenced him to a five-year jail term, and barred him from boxing. They stripped him of his title as champion of the world.

The punishment became his trophy. By taking away his crown, they anointed him king.

Years later, a few college students asked him to recite something. And for them he improvised the shortest poem in world literature:

“Me, we.”

From Mirrors (Nation Books, 2009), a history of humanity in 366 episodes

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This day in history: Muhammad Ali takes his stand

1967 — Muhammad Ali refuses to be drafted to fight in Vietnam: “No Viet Cong ever called me nigger.”

Although Ali is not charged or arrested for violating the Selective Service Act — much less convicted — the New York State Athletic Commission & World Boxing Association suspends his boxing license and strips him of his heavyweight title in May of 1967, minutes after he officially announces he will not submit to induction.

On June 20th, a federal court convicts Ali for violating the Selective Service Act, handing him a fine and a five-year prison sentence. In 1971, the Supreme Court unanimously overturns the conviction. Ali regained his title in 1974, defeating George Foreman in Zaire.

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A global hero

By ED STODDARD, Shunpiking Magazine, 3rd Annual Black History Supplement, No. 24, 1999

LAST FEBRUARY, while visiting the sweltering slum town of Banjarmasin on the island of Bornco, I came across a group of young Indonesian boys sparring by the river bank. Jokingly, I told them that they were like Muhammad Ali and held my fist up, readied for mock combat. The boys needed no further prompting. Immediately, they began shouting “Muhammad Ali!” and Ali-like, they began dancing and firing left jabs at each other. Continue reading

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