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Muhammad Ali (1942-2016): Boxing Great and Renegade Dies at 74


Muhammad Ali (1942-2016): Boxing Great and Renegade Dies at 74

Common Dreams staff

Boxing great Muhammad Ali, known around the world as a humanitarian who spoke out forcefully against racial inequality, social injustice and the Vietnam War during the 1960's, has died at the age of 74.

The news of the athlete's passing was confirmed by several news outlets late Friday night as well as a brief statement released on behalf of the family.

"After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74. The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died this evening," said family spokesperson Bob Gunnell in the statement.


A man of principles. I never was too keen on the sport of boxing but I always was a fan of Muhammad Ali.


God. Only a few days ago we mentioned him here at CD. Ali bomaye oppressors or their proxies and he would be remembered for doing his part to protect the 99% of the world.


Seriously? And from what source do you think Muhammad Ali derived his 'principled stand on fighting in Vietnam'?


The irony of history...he was not allowed to box for four years because he refused to kill in Vietnam.

There are still many Americans who believe that he should have been tried for treason and killed by firing squad.


He was what Islam looks like. Salam, Mr. Ali.


"Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change. --Muhammad Ali"

Culturally speaking, living through the sixties was to be alive during a special time. With television sets becoming commonplace, the world was being beamed into our homes. I watched the Vietnam War (unsanitized), the ascendency of Rock 'n Roll and Soul, the civil rights and anti-war protests. My youth was liberally sprinkled with visions of Ali and his poetic take on the world, as my very liberal mother offered her own commentary on the injustices of poverty and racism.

R.I.P. Muhammad Ali. You've earned it.


This a sad moment, not for sports but for civil rights leaders. He was more than an African American...more than an American, he was human. From us humans, we will miss him.


There was a special place for Champion of the World in those days. Ali made being the champion stand for more than it ever had before.
He was in your face talking about equality and race. He was the greatest he'd boldly say and some would roar approval and some would growl in anger but where he went he proved the claim. Ali made boxing great again.

Ali was the greatest because he was a great champion but not just because he was a superb and elegant boxer. Ali was the greatest because he stood for shaking free of being humble and that knowing your place when it was a second place because of your skin. Ali wouldn't 'just shush' as my Mom would say ...lol. Many an older generation were so shocked that a black person wasn't at all humble... Lol ...not even a bit...lol! Ali was also great because he chose to worship as he believed and even changed his name!

Ali was the greatest though when he protested the war in Vietnam and was banned from boxing in his best years. Ali was the champion protester against the war. I am not just saying that as hyperbole. When Ali took his principled stand it exploded across the consciousness of this country that the lives being lost in Vietnam mattered. There was no champion like him. He was the greatest champion and a great boxer too!

In the end even those who had hated him had grown to love and respect him for the kind of person he was. One of America's greatest and beloved by the whole world.

Float like a butterfly - sting like Ali.


Very few of us can hope to be known the world over as The Greatest in our careers. It takes extraordinary talent, will, hard work, and charisma to achieve what Ali did. But just as admirable, if not more so, is what this man -- a young black man, in the 60s -- said and did and stood for outside of boxing.

We all can't be The Greatest at boxing or whatever, but I'd like to think that Ali's willingness to stand up for what he believed to be right, and to refuse to support what he believed to be wrong, no matter the personal cost, is something we all have within us. What a very different world it would be if more of us exercised that capacity.


Great post.


Bigger than life. Mohammed Ali was a hero to so many, lots of young " dudes "; white and black and brown, he made our heads wrap around concepts ( awareness ) of equality and fairness. Of having amazing grace and reresilience under enormous pressures. His impact was so much more than boxing, sports and entertainment. An amazing gentleman who had to live and peak in the 1960s. No other era could hold and grasp his wild and honest energies. Just a young rebel who's heart and head was in tune with larger things. And, then the world embraced him. .... and the rest is really historical.


That is exactly what happened btw. Ali inspired people to take a stand and protest, to stand up for themselves against oppression.

I liked your post too.




Those of us of an age sometimes forget how different things were in that era. The media looks back and picks out flavors and impressions but they avoid talking about what you talk about because that might inspire more of the same thing now. America no longer knows the sixties of protest and excitement - not really. I guess that is the way of things. Each era is known only by those who lived it.

But with the help of film and now the Internet, you can still catch a glimpse of how it was. People can see and hear the brash and bold Ali throwing out challenges to the universe that he was the best which in fact he was. However young people may learn about the sixties but they don't experience the context of those days. For example in the twenties a woman smoking was a very big deal. It seems silly to us now that it could have been so important but once it was a very big deal. Then again women can't drive in Saudi Arabia still!

But America in the sixties was ever new. An act of constant creation daily when something new would be in the headlines. There truly was no era like that before or since. Things did change in America in the sixties and a very big part of that we're those amazing people who broke the mold and led by simply going first. God how I loved hearing Ali ... Lol. Humble he was not! Such giants we had in the sixties. It is easy to look back and say oh yeah but that was because he was the famous Ali! No he wasn't! He became the famous Ali later because of what he did but back then no one knew where any of this would lead. What he did took courage.

How amazing it was when Ali took his stand against the war. It inspired people who would have never thought to take a stand themselves to participate in a protest march. It also gave us all strength because Ali was one of us and he was the champion of the world. Ali was the greatest and we felt it to be true then.

Ali will forever be admired for being far more than just a great boxer.


At the time I was on my way to Viet Nam Ali was doing what he did best, not that I understood, but by the end of my tour of duty I was clearly aware of the hypocrisy of war. It took me a long time to understand the courage of Ali. He was a giant of man in so many ways. Adieu, Mohammed Ali.


Truly one of the greats of our times. A truth teller of the highest order. HIS WORDS PRINTED IN THIS ARTICLE SHOULD BE STUDIED BY ALL PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY AND ESPECIALLY BY you know who, the one and only Ms. Shillary. Shame on the likes of John Lewis for supporting her.


You were around at the time and might be interested in my blog post remembering him.


If you spend time wandering the streets of Manhattan you just never know who you will meet. One night, after seeing a concert in Central Park (I don't remember whether it was a Schaefer or Dr. Pepper concert, but it was sometime in the early seventies), my friends and I walked uptown to find a restaurant. Mr. Ali was walking toward us. He was not with his entourage, but was entirely by himself. As we approached each other I said, "How's it going champ?" He could have ignored me, but he did a bit of sham boxing, dancing the way he would in the ring, throwing some mock jabs, and said "floatin' like a butterfly." I said, "You're the greatest" to which he replied "Ah knows ah am. What a beautiful night to be walkin." "Sure is." And that was that. The man was kind and open to me, a complete stranger, a skinny Jewish kid with long hair. I will never forget that, or his huge, genuine smile.

I got just a taste of Mr. Ali's humanity that night. He was the real deal, through and through, a great man from afar and up close. May he rest in peace.


I spent $40 dollars in 1963 for the best FM radio I could find to listen to his boxing matches. Also, the speeches live of Dr. King, Kennedy, etc. And, yes, Gov. Wallace. We 60s kids, not living a suburban white daydream, were educated by the street where poets, punks, pols and wannabe prophets competed for our heads. The schools and churches and traditional institutions were no match for this phenomena. We took many casualties but, I wouldn't give a minute back. " I've never heard one person ever complain about having too much fun."