Muhammad Ali is dead
June 3, 2016 9:36 PM   Subscribe

The greatest died surrounded by family. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016 was an American former professional boxer, generally considered among the greatest heavyweights in the history of the sport. A controversial and polarizing figure during his early career, Ali is now remembered for the skills he displayed in the ring plus the values he exemplified outside of it: religious freedom, racial justice and the triumph of principle over expedience. He is one of the most recognized sports figures of the past 100 years.
posted by shockingbluamp (281 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by zachlipton at 9:37 PM on June 3, 2016


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posted by nimsey lou at 9:38 PM on June 3, 2016


Damn. I knew the end was coming, but... damn.

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posted by palomar at 9:40 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


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posted by mochapickle at 9:41 PM on June 3, 2016


I've always had a bit of a soft spot for boxing: it was one of the few things that, ironically enough, brought peace to my household on the weekends when my dad and siblings would watch fights. There were also many, many recaps/arguments about Ali's greatest matches and his overall greatness. He was one of a kind.

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posted by TwoStride at 9:41 PM on June 3, 2016


Probably worth watching some early interviews. The guy was charismatic as hell.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:43 PM on June 3, 2016 [16 favorites]


He embodied the words, "Justice, justice, shall you pursue." Rest in power, Mr. Ali.

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posted by Sophie1 at 9:43 PM on June 3, 2016 [9 favorites]


Ali on the Vietnam War. (Racial slur in the title, unsurprising given the pullquote).

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posted by dhens at 9:43 PM on June 3, 2016 [19 favorites]


Heartbroken. May all who love him be comforted and his greatness be remembered for all of time.

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posted by batmonkey at 9:44 PM on June 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


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With much respect for what he put into the world.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 9:44 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


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posted by Iridic at 9:44 PM on June 3, 2016


Float like a butterfly.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:45 PM on June 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


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posted by Fizz at 9:45 PM on June 3, 2016


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posted by riverlife at 9:45 PM on June 3, 2016


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posted by tonycpsu at 9:46 PM on June 3, 2016


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posted by Huck500 at 9:46 PM on June 3, 2016


As with Palomar, above, I knew this day had to come sooner or later but that does make it any less sorrowful.

Those who don't know as much as they would like about Ali or boxing and who have never seen Leon Gast's fantastic documentary about the Rumble in the Jungle, When We Were Kings, owe it to themselves to watch it and be astonished by how indescribably charismatic Ali was at his peak.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:47 PM on June 3, 2016 [23 favorites]


Oh lord this fucking year
posted by maxsparber at 9:47 PM on June 3, 2016 [36 favorites]


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posted by Apocryphon at 9:48 PM on June 3, 2016


👊🏾
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:49 PM on June 3, 2016 [9 favorites]


I don't like boxing but I respect Ali.

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posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:49 PM on June 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


“I Ain't Got No Quarrel With The VietCong...No VietCong Ever Called Me Nigger.

I was 8 when he said that. My parents were horrified. I ... My whole world shifted. Such bravery. I caught a glimpse of what the U.S. was for others; nothing was ever the same.

Thank you.

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posted by djinn dandy at 9:49 PM on June 3, 2016 [136 favorites]


Right there with you TwoStride. I'm not the biggest sports guy, but boxing was a thing in my family. You didn't need to care about anything else, but you knew who was fighting that night. Ali was always at the center of it but never mentioned. He was Ali. Things only happened around Ali. But you couldn't touch the source.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:49 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


A single . seems insufficient for the Greatest of all Time.

Muhammad Ali Black Superman by Johnny Wakelin & the Kinshasa Band.
posted by mogget at 9:50 PM on June 3, 2016 [9 favorites]






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posted by rtha at 9:51 PM on June 3, 2016


Muhammed Ali is an honourary classmate (h'07) of my graduating undergrad class. It was lovely and surreal to see him receiving a doctorate in the minutes before we were officially let loose on the world. I'm proud to have something in common with him, and sorry to have lost a classmate, particularly one who was such a class act.
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posted by ilana at 9:52 PM on June 3, 2016 [11 favorites]


“I Ain't Got No Quarrel With The VietCong...No VietCong Ever Called Me Nigger.

the full quote:

My conscience won't let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn't put no dogs on me, they didn't rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. ... Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.

one of my heroes, no question


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posted by philip-random at 9:55 PM on June 3, 2016 [199 favorites]


Back in the 90s when I was going to York University, a university classmate of mine, who was British and middle-aged, told me that one night back in the 1970s when he was in an English pub, he was turning away from the bar with his beer, accidentally bumped his glass against someone's sleeve, and spilled beer on the guy. He looked up at the person only to find that the beer-splashed sleeve belonged to Muhammed Ali. Ali gave my classmate a narrow, slightly pissed off look, but said (and punched) nothing. Thanks for fighting so well in the ring and behaving so well out of it, Mr. Ali.
posted by orange swan at 9:55 PM on June 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


Boxing is the sport which all sports aspire to be and Ali was a man who inspired me.

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posted by Samuel Farrow at 9:55 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


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posted by MythMaker at 9:56 PM on June 3, 2016


The Greatest of All Time.

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posted by kbanas at 9:57 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


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posted by Halloween Jack at 9:58 PM on June 3, 2016


Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescat in pace.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:58 PM on June 3, 2016


Muhammad Ali - ABC Classic Wide World of Sports (Rare footage)

Three hours, twenty minutes ...
posted by philip-random at 9:59 PM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


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posted by cazoo at 10:00 PM on June 3, 2016


Even as his health declined, Ali did not shy from politics or controversy, releasing a statement in December criticizing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. "We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda," he said.
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posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:01 PM on June 3, 2016 [52 favorites]


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posted by homunculus at 10:01 PM on June 3, 2016


Ali has been one of my few sports heroes -- those were the days when pro boxing still mattered and there's never been anyone like Muhammad Ali. I second ricochet biscuit's recommendation of the documentary When We Were Kings -- Ali's performance that night against Foreman was a wonder in many different respects. Also, Bill Nack's eulogy of Ali on ESPN is quite good, very affecting.

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posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:03 PM on June 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


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Truly an athlete who at his peak not only transcended his sport, but just about everything else as well.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:04 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm not old enough to remember Ali in his boxing years. I do remember him being a legend and sort of a hometown hero in the northern Indiana/southern Michigan local news as he lived in Berrien Springs. In an interview they showed him doing a magic trick for some local kids. They showed how he made a point to reveal to the kids how he did the trick, because he didn't want to deceive anyone. That really stuck with me.
posted by The Potate at 10:04 PM on June 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


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posted by oneswellfoop at 10:05 PM on June 3, 2016




I'm not a fan of boxing in general, but Ali was special. Sad that he is gone, what a giant of history.

I only found out this year that I've walked the quiet hallways where Ali once walked. In a weird quirk of history, my hometown of Örnsköldsvik - and the school (Nolaskolan) where I spent grades 10 and 11 - played host to Ali during a promotional tour of Sweden in 1965. A boxing rink was constructed in the central lobby of the school, with a few thousand attendees lining the terraces around the hall. He apparently brought with him several people to fight during the exhibition.

The local newspaper headlined its coverage of the event with the line "Boxer, Poet, Preacher" - which I think is a nice summary. RIP, one of the greatest ever.
posted by gemmy at 10:06 PM on June 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


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posted by Gymnopedist at 10:07 PM on June 3, 2016


By and large, I just can't get excited about sports. I'll cheer someone on if I happen to be watching, maybe. Then it's over and I move on and it has made almost no difference in my world. Consequently, my admiration for athletes is fairly limited.

But if you asked me to name an athlete I really did admire, probably the first one I'd think of is Muhammad Ali. And it's for so many of the things already cited here.

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posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:08 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


He's the most famous man of our age, far beyond any mere President or Hollywood star. His greatness extends far beyond his considerable skills as an athlete. He was a man of peace & honor & courage. We will not see the likes of him again. This is a loss for all of us.
posted by scalefree at 10:10 PM on June 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


Floated like a butterfly, stung like a bee.
posted by taff at 10:12 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Muhammad Ali Black Superman Oh man, I hadn't heard that in 40 years....

Heavyweight boxing's GOAT. His greatest weapon wasn't his speed or reflexes or boxing skills or punching power - it was his mind in the ring.

Respect. RIP.
posted by e-man at 10:12 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Damn. And yeah, When We Were Kings. I wasn't really old enough to know of Ali as a boxer, but that documentary was amazing. I have no idea about the accuracy of the Will Smith biopic Ali, but that was pretty great, too.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:13 PM on June 3, 2016




He was funny too. Handled Our Norman Gunston beautifully.Ali and Gunston -"Pick me up a duty free transistor?" (Not everyone interviewed by Gunston back in the day did. )
posted by taff at 10:16 PM on June 3, 2016 [8 favorites]




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posted by mistersquid at 10:20 PM on June 3, 2016


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posted by thelonius at 10:21 PM on June 3, 2016


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posted by killy willy at 10:22 PM on June 3, 2016


Always loved Ali. He was the greatest. No one like him then, no one like him now, and there never will be anyone like him. Truly unique.

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posted by cwest at 10:22 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


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posted by lapolla at 10:33 PM on June 3, 2016


Hero
posted by Freedomboy at 10:36 PM on June 3, 2016


I came out of the Farragut North metro about a decade ago. There was this huge crowd standing outside of the Big and Tall store at the metro escalator entrance. Rumor was that Ali was shopping at the store. No one in the crowd had seen him, it was just a rumor. I waited and eventually he came up the window and waved to the crowd. The moment is impossible to properly describe. I can still feel the energy from it years later.
posted by humanfont at 10:39 PM on June 3, 2016 [12 favorites]


May you have peace.
posted by penduluum at 10:40 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is there anyone who doesn't have a great Muhammad Ali story? I always liked George Foreman's:

It's the Rumble in the Jungle. Ali has decided that rope-a-dope is the way to go with Foreman. He's taunting the champ, poking jabs occasionally, taking hits, but mostly letting the champ wear himself out. Foreman says:

"All night, he's taunting me. Doing that Ali thing. About the sixth or seventh, he says to me: 'Come on George! That all you got?'"

Foreman pauses, looks into the camera...

"And I thought: 'Yeah. That's about it...'
That's when I knew I was gonna lose the fight."

Rest in Peace, champ.
posted by aureliobuendia at 10:42 PM on June 3, 2016 [36 favorites]


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posted by ZeusHumms at 10:45 PM on June 3, 2016


. bomaye
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 10:48 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


When I'm gone, boxing will be nothing again. The fans with the cigars and
the hats turned down'll be there, but no more housewives and little men in
the street and foreign presidents. It's goin' to be back to the fighter who
comes to town, smells a flower, visits a hospital, blows a horn and says
he's in shape. Old hat. I was the onliest boxer in history people asked
questions like a senator.
(1967, as quoted by H S Thompson)
posted by hawthorne at 10:48 PM on June 3, 2016 [56 favorites]


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posted by mosk at 10:53 PM on June 3, 2016


Ali was my very distant cousin (the Clay side of the family). Grew up watching his fights with my dad, his interviews on Wide World of Sports (giving Howard Cosell hell). I met him and Lonnie once several years ago.

This is...hard. I wish I could have gotten to know him better.

I reckon tomorrow I'll head down to the Ali Center and offer my respects on behalf of my wing of the family.

To Allah he belongs, and to Him he does return.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:03 PM on June 3, 2016 [37 favorites]


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posted by Joey Michaels at 11:03 PM on June 3, 2016


I used to babysit a lot as a teen around the time Tyson was running roughshod over everyone. Hell, I was babysitting and watched him lose to Buster Douglas. (Whether the house had HBO or not was a pretty big deal at the time and might influence you taking the job.)
Then I'm home for the weekend in college and some sports channel is running a marathon of Classic Ali fights.
Man, those weren't even the same things...
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posted by Cyrano at 11:03 PM on June 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


My father and I disagreed about why, but we both loved watching Ali and we did it together. Thanks for all you were, Champ, and thank you for that as well.
posted by pt68 at 11:10 PM on June 3, 2016


The mayor has announced that flags on metro Louisville gov't buildings will go to half-mast tomorrow morning and remain that way until Ali is laid to rest.

Link

A museum dedicated to Ali just opened last week in his former home, too.

This stinks. :(
posted by magstheaxe at 11:18 PM on June 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Can 2016 just take a fucking hike with this shit already?
posted by lkc at 11:28 PM on June 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


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posted by praemunire at 11:32 PM on June 3, 2016




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posted by dbiedny at 11:35 PM on June 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


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posted by Windopaene at 11:35 PM on June 3, 2016


Saw him get his star on the Hollywood walk of fame. didn't go on the walk. His statement was: "I bear the name of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and it is impossible that I allow people to trample over his name."

His star was in a display case. The newly serious Jamie Foxx was there, too.

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posted by lkc at 11:35 PM on June 3, 2016 [9 favorites]


One of my heroes - honorable, courageous, generous and funny. There was never anyone like him before and there will never be anyone like him again.

Here are some clips from the early years.

1963 interview with Steve Allen when he was still Cassius Clay

Nikki Giovanni interviews Muhammad Ali

On Face the Nation - 1976
posted by madamjujujive at 11:57 PM on June 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


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posted by brecc at 12:05 AM on June 4, 2016


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What an impact he had on the world in so many ways. There will never be another like him.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:06 AM on June 4, 2016


Also, 2016, could you just stop it already? We've lost far too many legends this year, and we're only halfway through.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:07 AM on June 4, 2016


It may seem like a novelty title, but Superman vs Muhammad Ali shows why he was the only man who could go toe-toe-toe with Superman and win.

When I was online watching the Olympics when Ali appeared out of nowhere and lit the torch. The BBS I was on lit up in amazement and excitement, which I don't think I saw with anyone else until much later.

Thirding or fourthing watching When We Were Kings as it is a marvelous piece of work, even if you dislike boxing. (Also, comparing Foreman in his prime to the jovial grill salesman with multiple eponymous children of later years is weird...)

. The Greatest of All Time. He was so mean he made medicine sick.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:10 AM on June 4, 2016 [13 favorites]


Muhammad Ali really was a great man. He did many wonderful things. I appreciated that in his autobiography he had his ex wife tell her side of their story.
Not many men, especially not many famous men would be that honest and brave.
May he attain Paradise, and may his loved ones find comfort
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:27 AM on June 4, 2016 [12 favorites]


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posted by Coda Tronca at 12:34 AM on June 4, 2016


'WHAT'S MY NAME?'
posted by Coda Tronca at 12:41 AM on June 4, 2016 [3 favorites]




Never cared for boxing but goddam was I a fan of Ali. Watching him light the Olympic torch was a Moment.
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posted by Fibognocchi at 12:53 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


RIP, Champ.
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posted by carter at 1:05 AM on June 4, 2016


“I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”

إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعون

May his memory be a blessing.

Godspeed.

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posted by Kinbote at 1:11 AM on June 4, 2016 [25 favorites]


My favorite athlete. IMO, in his prime, bigger than Ruth, bigger than Jordan, bigger than Pele or Maradona or Messi. He was Larger Than Life. He was also funny and opinionated, simultaneously smart and approachable. He got me, a suburban white kid whose parents were card-carrying members of the Silent Majority, to consider issues of race and justice for the very first time. He made taking a moral stand cool. He was a new model for courage. He also provided me with a surefire bit for getting other boys to laugh, in which I conducted an interview in the voices of Ali and Howard Cosell. That and a parody of a PSA about hemophilia got me through a couple of awkward years of elementary school relatively unscathed.

He was also pretty. He'd want us to note that.
posted by Lyme Drop at 1:11 AM on June 4, 2016 [25 favorites]


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posted by HandfulOfDust at 1:15 AM on June 4, 2016


Oh no, no.

🐝
posted by Room 641-A at 1:20 AM on June 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


I shouldn't live so long that I see so many of my heroes die. There's now a huge empty space in my childhood memories.
posted by happyroach at 1:28 AM on June 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


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posted by Token Meme at 1:28 AM on June 4, 2016


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posted by XMLicious at 1:29 AM on June 4, 2016


I remember seeing Ali in interview (may have been with Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes) when he was already visibly suffering from Parkinson's and slow in movement and speaking. When asked if he could still throw a punch, this old man whipped out his fist so blindingly fast, which he pulled at the last second before hitting the man, that the interviewer almost fell out of his chair in surprise. Camera back to Ali's face, which was sort of mask-like with his disease, except for the gleeful sparkle in his eyes. Yes, by God, he could still throw a punch. RIP.
posted by thebrokedown at 1:29 AM on June 4, 2016 [27 favorites]


Ali, Bowie, Prince, Rickman, Safer, Haggard, Shandling, Cruyff, Eco, Lee, Vigoda &c. - maybe 2016 is the year of the rapture, in slow motion.
posted by chavenet at 2:00 AM on June 4, 2016 [18 favorites]


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posted by one weird trick at 2:11 AM on June 4, 2016


"It's not the Who or the What that is lasting
But how you fight
That is the fight"
- Bane, "Ali V Frazier I"
posted by churl at 2:12 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


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If he had converted to Islam today, he would be vilified by many of the same people declaring him a hero.
posted by fairmettle at 2:30 AM on June 4, 2016 [15 favorites]


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posted by mwhybark at 2:32 AM on June 4, 2016


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posted by heatvision at 2:32 AM on June 4, 2016


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posted by Joe in Australia at 2:45 AM on June 4, 2016


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posted by playeren at 3:05 AM on June 4, 2016


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for The Greatest.
posted by lmfsilva at 3:25 AM on June 4, 2016


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posted by How the runs scored at 3:26 AM on June 4, 2016


He was so mean, he made medicine sick.

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(And I'll be grateful forever that the two world shattering, most important historical events my father deemed important enough to get us kids out of bed to watch, were the moon landing and the fight against Foreman...)

((And, for me, that fight did show that the word is mightier than the fist - he wore Foreman out with talking to him the whole time.))
posted by ojemine at 3:27 AM on June 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ω
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:29 AM on June 4, 2016


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posted by Gelatin at 3:31 AM on June 4, 2016


And yes, that documentary is absolutely great. The whole fight is on youtube, too.
posted by ojemine at 3:32 AM on June 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


. Grew up in the seventies and it's hard to explain how huge Ali was back then. There's no athlete now who even approaches his stature or cultural relevancy.
posted by octothorpe at 3:36 AM on June 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


thebrokedown: could it be this clip? Not quite the same, but in some ways even better. Give it about a minute.
posted by Iteki at 3:37 AM on June 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


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posted by drezdn at 3:37 AM on June 4, 2016


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posted by Ravneson at 3:42 AM on June 4, 2016


“I don't count my sit-ups; I only start counting when it starts hurting because they’re the only ones that count.”
posted by kimota at 3:48 AM on June 4, 2016 [15 favorites]


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Rest well champ. Louisville will miss you.
posted by deezil at 3:50 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I would be more sad if I hadn't been under the impression, until 10 seconds ago, that he has already been dead for two decades or so. For me it was like reading news that George Harrison has just passed away.
posted by Bugbread at 4:03 AM on June 4, 2016


Wow. This is like a piece of the landscape is gone, or something.

RIP, Greatest.
posted by jonmc at 4:06 AM on June 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


The Greatest of All Time.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:07 AM on June 4, 2016


He transcended his sport, his times, his nation. He was the most recognizable man on the planet. There will never be another like him.

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posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:08 AM on June 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


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posted by drnick at 4:35 AM on June 4, 2016


👊🏾

Everyone from Louisville has Ali stories. Today is going to be tough.

I ran into him in the Louisville Airport once. Along with several dozen other people, he passed out simple Islamic pamphlets with his signature. He'd sign them by the hundreds on days when his hands would work, and distribute them when he'd get mobbed in public.
posted by DigDoug at 4:36 AM on June 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


Thanks, Champ. See you around.
posted by Capt. Renault at 4:43 AM on June 4, 2016


Esquire article from early on in his illness, 'Great Men Die Twice'.

Michael Mann (one of the few committed political directors working in Hollywood) made a great bio-pic Ali. People turn up their nose because it stars Will Smith, but it's top shelf and Will Smith is absolutely fantastic in it. It takes a dancer to do Ali's footwork.

Something I can't find legally or illegally (except as part of a prohibitively expensive box set) is William Klein's 1969 incredible documentary Float Like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee. The versions on Youtube and Vimeo are not the same documentary I remember watching. It is incredible, not just for Ali, but he interviews the people in charge of Ali's early career, who talk about him exactly as if they own him.

Ali is the greatest in so many ways. Ali bomaye.
posted by Cassettevetes at 4:44 AM on June 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


Thanks Champ for opening the eyes of a skinny white kid in Texas to a different world...

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posted by jim in austin at 4:44 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


⚪️
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:45 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


To be Muslim and American and to be able to claim Ali as one of ours has been a bright flame all my life. It's hard to describe the pride we have taken in him. When I was little, he was the big man who could make the jump-rope sing (And he's one of us!) and he was the greatest boxer in the world (And he's one of us!). Then when I was a bit older I read about his refusal to go to Vietnam (and he's one of us!) and then I grew up a bit more and read more and every single time that refrain of (And he's one of us!) added a burst of pride to the admiration I felt for him.

Innallillahe wa inna elaihi rajeoon.
posted by bardophile at 4:57 AM on June 4, 2016 [44 favorites]


Oh God. Such a part of my life. when I was growing up. My Dad was a big sports fan, and he used to interact with me a lot by telling me all about his favorite sports figures. He knew everything about every team, every sport, and he also loved and admired all the great boxers.

I lost my Dad 2 years ago come this July, and I wish I could talk to him, I know he would have some piece of trivia about Ali, something I would have been too young to notice, but greats like this were part and parcel of my youth.

Knew he was ill, of course, but I can only hope that the afterlife exists, and the greats who have passed away this year are over there on the other side, lending their spiritual energy, reminding us of what humankind can accomplish, when we break free of the yoke of conformity and just live our very short lives as best as we can, and stop worrying about what the rest of the world thinks of us. Most of us will never even come close to being this great, not even .001% of it, but he was a candle that lit many others, and I hope he truly rests in peace, because after all he has done, he deserves it.

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posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:57 AM on June 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Ha'aretz: Mohammed Ali's Complicated Relationship With the Jews (includes Billy Crystal impression of Ali)
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:59 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've never been into sports, least of all boxing, but Ali transcended being a mere athlete --- he was smart, funny, strong minded and opinionated, as well as being one of the most beautiful men I've ever seen.

Via con Dios, sir. 🐝
posted by easily confused at 5:01 AM on June 4, 2016


Another hero passes.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 5:12 AM on June 4, 2016


Grew up in the seventies and it's hard to explain how huge Ali was back then. There's no athlete now who even approaches his stature or cultural relevancy.

So, so much this. I was never a boxing fan, but Ali was an icon unto himself. My grandfather loved to watch him. It was heartbreaking when it came out that he had Parkinsons.

He will always be The Greatest.

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posted by Thorzdad at 5:15 AM on June 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Clay comes out to meet Liston
and Liston starts to retreat,
if Liston goes back an inch farther
he'll end up in a ringside seat.
Clay swings with his left,
Clay swings with his right,
Look at young Cassius
carry the fight
Liston keeps backing, but there's not enough room,
It's a matter of time till Clay lowers the boom.
Now Clay lands with a right,
What a beautiful swing,
and the punch raises the Bear
clean out of the ring.
Liston is still rising and the ref wears a frown,
For he can't start counting
till Sonny goes down.
Now Liston is disappearing from view,
The crowd is going frantic,
But radar stations have picked him up,
Somewhere over the Atlantic.
Who would have thought
when they came to the fight?
That they'd witness the launching
of a human satellite.
Yes the crowd did not dream,
when they put up the money,
That they would see
a total eclipse of the Sonny.

RIP Muhammad Ali
posted by crazylegs at 5:16 AM on June 4, 2016 [10 favorites]


Probably my favorite portrait of Ali is the iconic shot of him standing like a greek boxing statue at the bottom of a swimming pool. Shot by Flip Schulke for Sports Illustrated, it was not used by SI because they thought it was too strange. It ended up running in Life magazine. Schulke later discovered Ali had pranked him with his pool training and actually couldn't even swim. RIP.
posted by chris24 at 5:18 AM on June 4, 2016 [11 favorites]


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posted by fizzix at 5:26 AM on June 4, 2016


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posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:29 AM on June 4, 2016


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posted by dannyboybell at 5:30 AM on June 4, 2016


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posted by marienbad at 5:32 AM on June 4, 2016


Well, .

Boo. This year sucks. I want a do-over.
posted by Archelaus at 5:33 AM on June 4, 2016


Calling most elite professional athletes heroes cheapens the word. Then there's Ali, whose athletic fame allowed him to become an actual hero in contexts unrelated to sports. The world is diminished by its loss of this great man.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:36 AM on June 4, 2016 [7 favorites]




The first time I ever heard about draft dodging it was from Muhammed Ali. The first time I ever heard about Islam it was from Muhammed Ali. The first time I ever heard about trash talking poetry it was from Muhammed Ali.

Float like a butterfly
Sting like a bee
Get up and fight sucker
Call me Muhammed Ali
posted by bukvich at 5:38 AM on June 4, 2016 [7 favorites]




"Me, we."

RIP, champ.
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:41 AM on June 4, 2016


Boxing is over.

.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:44 AM on June 4, 2016


.
posted by radwolf76 at 5:47 AM on June 4, 2016


A man of tremendous integrity.

When We Were Kings is a heroes tale. (On DailyMotion)
posted by readery at 5:47 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


.
posted by zchyrs at 5:50 AM on June 4, 2016


.
posted by kewb at 5:52 AM on June 4, 2016


He exemplified principle.

.
posted by tzikeh at 5:58 AM on June 4, 2016


.
posted by fredludd at 6:00 AM on June 4, 2016


.
posted by adamvasco at 6:03 AM on June 4, 2016


The Time Muhammad Ali Stopped a Man from Leaping to His Death

Some serious superhero stuff there.
posted by octothorpe at 6:04 AM on June 4, 2016 [12 favorites]


Recently, I was reading a biography of the pro wrestler Gorgeous George, and in the epigram, Ali admits to basing some of his persona and psych out technique on the man. It's interesting.
posted by jonmc at 6:12 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 6:21 AM on June 4, 2016


And if the pool shot is my favorite portrait of Ali, Neil Leifer's iconic shot of Ali standing over Sonny Liston in the rematch is probably my favorite action shot of him, and perhaps the greatest sports photo of all time. The story behind the shot.
posted by chris24 at 6:31 AM on June 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


"I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale,
handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail.
Only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick.
I'm so mean I make medicine sick."
posted by bluecore at 6:35 AM on June 4, 2016 [16 favorites]


His segment on the "Eyes on the Prize" series was terrific.

.
posted by Melismata at 6:45 AM on June 4, 2016




Our collective worth as a people has taken a hit. He was truly the best of us.

RIP Champ.
posted by davelog at 7:00 AM on June 4, 2016


.
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:02 AM on June 4, 2016


He was an American treasure. My sympathies to his family and friends.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:04 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ali was a magnificent athlete. But that's not why he was a hero. Though it would have been enough.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 7:04 AM on June 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


GOAT

.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:13 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


.
posted by eckeric at 7:15 AM on June 4, 2016


.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:19 AM on June 4, 2016


.
posted by Splunge at 7:22 AM on June 4, 2016


Ali bomaye.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:36 AM on June 4, 2016


Jamil Smith: The Patience of Muhammad Ali
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:43 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


[Hunter S. Thompson] That was always the difference between Muhammad Ali and the rest of us. He came, he saw, and if he didn't entirely conquer - he came as close as anybody we are likely to see in the lifetime of this doomed generation.
posted by delfin at 7:46 AM on June 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


.

I remember one sweltering night in Providence when Ali was passing through town and stopped at a bodega to get an ice cream sandwich in the middle of the night (we didn't call them that- they were "corner stores") a few blocks away from where I lived, in the poorest section of the city. Because it was hot, lots of people were out on the streets and stoops because their apartments were too sweltering. The news that Ali was in the hood spread like wildfire and soon there was a huge crowd of all ages surrounding him that grew and grew. Ever gracious and thoughtful, he had his driver wait while he stood out in the heat talking to people and signing autographs for over an hour, so as not to disappoint people who were still arriving to meet their hero.
posted by stagewhisper at 7:49 AM on June 4, 2016 [11 favorites]


The Best Stories Ever Written About Muhammad Ali: A collection of great journalism about the greatest of all time.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:56 AM on June 4, 2016 [5 favorites]




.
posted by smoothvirus at 8:02 AM on June 4, 2016


President Obama's statement is, unsurprisingly, wonderful: [via the White House Facebook page]
Muhammad Ali was The Greatest. Period. If you just asked him, he’d tell you. He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d 'handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail.'

But what made The Champ the greatest—what truly separated him from everyone else—is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing.

Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing. But we’re also grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him, if just for a while; for how fortunate we all are that The Greatest chose to grace our time.

In my private study, just off the Oval Office, I keep a pair of his gloves on display, just under that iconic photograph of him—the young champ, just 22 years old, roaring like a lion over a fallen Sonny Liston. I was too young when it was taken to understand who he was—still Cassius Clay, already an Olympic Gold Medal winner, yet to set out on a spiritual journey that would lead him to his Muslim faith, exile him at the peak of his power, and set the stage for his return to greatness with a name as familiar to the downtrodden in the slums of Southeast Asia and the villages of Africa as it was to cheering crowds in Madison Square Garden.

'I am America,' he once declared. 'I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me—black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.'

That’s the Ali I came to know as I came of age—not just as skilled a poet on the mic as he was a fighter in the ring, but a man who fought for what was right. A man who fought for us. He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t. His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing. It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail. But Ali stood his ground. And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today.

He wasn’t perfect, of course. For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved. But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes—maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves. Later, as his physical powers ebbed, he became an even more powerful force for peace and reconciliation around the world. We saw a man who said he was so mean he’d make medicine sick reveal a soft spot, visiting children with illness and disability around the world, telling them they, too, could become the greatest. We watched a hero light a torch, and fight his greatest fight of all on the world stage once again; a battle against the disease that ravaged his body, but couldn’t take the spark from his eyes.

Muhammad Ali shook up the world. And the world is better for it. We are all better for it. Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family, and we pray that the greatest fighter of them all finally rests in peace.
posted by dersins at 8:02 AM on June 4, 2016 [54 favorites]


I think about Obama's and Ali's America and then I think of Charlie Daniels' and the NRA's America and I can't even understand how the rednecks who smugly think their imaginary country is somehow superior don't slink away in shame.

The world is bigger, sadder, more triumphant, less just, more heroic, joyful, incomprehensible, and amazing than you can understand. Get used to it.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:14 AM on June 4, 2016 [33 favorites]


.
posted by joedan at 8:19 AM on June 4, 2016


Those of us who grew up watching him in the ring always knew we were watching history unfold. We knew there'd never be another like him, and there never will. R.I.P., champ.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 8:20 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I miss him already.
posted by y2karl at 8:30 AM on June 4, 2016


We are poorer for his loss, he truly was the best of us. Godspeed.

.
posted by arcticseal at 8:35 AM on June 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Faith personified.
Impossible is nothing, indeed.
posted by fullerine at 8:46 AM on June 4, 2016


U+1F98B 🐝
posted by metaquarry at 8:50 AM on June 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


.

I am truly sad.
posted by haiku warrior at 9:05 AM on June 4, 2016


Ali was such a big part of my childhood. As an immigrant kid, his was the first name outside of my own family that I remember knowing. We came to the US in the '70s and I remember think it was extraordinary and promising that the greatest athlete in the world was a Muslim. I hadn't really conceptualized it (being far too young) but looking back on it now, I think it made me feel hopeful for my new country. If you were to ask anyone around the Islamic world, you would find that many considered him their own.

Thank you, Mr. Ali for being an inspiration and for living your life proudly and generously. Truly one of a kind.

"I’ve wrestled with alligators,
I’ve tussled with a whale.
I done handcuffed lightning
And throw thunder in jail.
You know I’m bad.
just last week, I murdered a rock,
Injured a stone, Hospitalized a brick.
I’m so mean, I make medicine sick."

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un-"Surely we belong to Allah, and to Him we shall return."
posted by nikitabot at 9:06 AM on June 4, 2016 [9 favorites]


.
posted by Small Dollar at 9:10 AM on June 4, 2016


.
posted by jabo at 9:20 AM on June 4, 2016


.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 9:35 AM on June 4, 2016


.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:37 AM on June 4, 2016


My mom had a story that she once saw Muhammed Ali (when he still went by the name Cassius Clay) in a store. She was on the escalator riding up, and he was on the escalator riding down. She just exclaimed, "Cassius Clay!" and he smiled and said, "yes, ma'am."

She was just another fan. But to her, and at our house, his was a name said with admiration and respect.
posted by datawrangler at 9:42 AM on June 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


.
posted by inconsequentialist at 9:45 AM on June 4, 2016




I was on a late-night flight from Chicago to LaGuardia, must have been 1999. Standing in baggage claim after the flight, probably 11:30 or so, with my two-year-old son and a few dozen other folks from the flight. Then I saw him, off to the side with his friend Howard Bingham, waiting patiently for his luggage with the other passengers: Muhammad Ali. No one else from the flight seemed to notice (or else they were playing it incredibly cool), but a few of the airport workers did, and would go over to shake his hand.

I never bother famous people when I see them, but this was a childhood hero and one of the most celebrated people of my lifetime. I went over with my son, said hello to Ali and Bingham, and introduced my boy to The Champ. Ali shook his hand, did a little shadowboxing and smiled. I will never forget that.
posted by stargell at 10:04 AM on June 4, 2016 [17 favorites]


Roger Ebert: Watching Rocky II with Muhammad Ali (from July 1979)

More Ebert on Ali here.
posted by effbot at 10:24 AM on June 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


.
posted by but no cigar at 10:29 AM on June 4, 2016


.
posted by twidget at 10:36 AM on June 4, 2016


...sting like a bee. RIP, great one.
posted by Lynsey at 10:39 AM on June 4, 2016


.
posted by Sphinx at 10:45 AM on June 4, 2016


. for one of the best of us
posted by Quietgal at 10:51 AM on June 4, 2016


When I did see Prince in 2012, he showed When We Were Kings as the audience filed in. I was too little when the fight took place, so seeing the film gave me a real sense of the feeling in the early 70's of pride, and of joy, and where there was no turning back to us hating ourselves just because somebody else wanted us to for their own reasons.

And that's what I respect most about Ali, his self-love. Only a true and abiding self-regard like the kind he had for himself could enable him to say he was the greatest and it wasn't an empty boast, and to be able to take the principled stands he took and not worry about the consequences. Whatever happened, he had himself, he was his own rock (though of course he had support!), and he was gon' be all right, Jack!

He's definitely an example for the rest of us in that regard, and that's what he wanted to be.


.
posted by droplet at 10:59 AM on June 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


.

I saw him once, in a moderately small venue; it was a meet-and-greet on Microsoft campus in the early 90's. Celebrities would come on campus now and again and check the company out (like they do with Google these days).

I have never before, nor ever since, seen a person with so much personal charisma. His presence filled the room. He was soft spoken and mild, but when he did speak everyone hung on every word, and everyone was joyous to be in his presence. He did a little magic trick (involving a fake thumb), then showed how the trick was done (my understanding is that he loved magic, but his faith prevented him from tricking anyone - so he would show simple tricks and then reveal the method).

I got to shake his hand... Such a very gentle handshake.

I am saddened at the world's loss, he indeed was a great man.
posted by el io at 11:02 AM on June 4, 2016 [14 favorites]




I've worked in a couple of docs about him, and Leon Gast got him to sign a photo for my little nephew. Sorry for his family.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:17 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have never been a fan of boxing, but he really was an amazing man. I have infinite respect. My condolences to his loved ones.

.
posted by annsunny at 11:22 AM on June 4, 2016




Ali was funny and fierce and brave and principled but so sad: he was ground up and used up by boxing.

.
posted by Bee'sWing at 11:38 AM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


The first time I ever heard about draft dodging it was from Muhammed Ali.

To be clear, Ali was not a "draft dodger". He rejected the draft for the Vietnam war as immoral. There was no dodging. There was no backroom trickery. There was no privilege. He was up front about it and was convicted for his beliefs.

Guys like Dick Cheney, Donald Trump and Mitt Romney were draft dodgers who used influence and privilege to sneak out of harm's way and paid no price for it.
posted by JackFlash at 11:45 AM on June 4, 2016 [78 favorites]


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posted by pjsky at 11:47 AM on June 4, 2016


From David Remnick's beautiful elegy in the New Yorker: "One last thing: at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley tonight, Paul Simon was singing “The Boxer.” Pausing before the final verse, he told the audience, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but Muhammad Ali just passed away.”
posted by tizzie at 11:58 AM on June 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


Ali refused to be drafted in 1966, before widespread opposition to the Vietnam War. His stance cost him three years at his physical peak. He was 24 years old and the heavyweight champion. It was a huge sacrifice on principle.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:02 PM on June 4, 2016 [19 favorites]


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posted by fraula at 12:06 PM on June 4, 2016


I can't think of anyone else ever in history calling themselves The Greatest Of All Time and it actually being true. Athlete, poet, such a incredible intellect and great conscience, the world has suffered a major, major loss.
posted by Cookiebastard at 12:07 PM on June 4, 2016 [3 favorites]




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posted by stanf at 12:11 PM on June 4, 2016


The Paul Simon thing is uncomfortable: "...and he cries out in his anger and his shame..." Surely not Muhammad Ali. Simon is great but I think he got that he got that wrong.
posted by stanf at 12:16 PM on June 4, 2016


I was hanging out on my front steps this morning when my retired neighbor walked his dog past me. As he was saying hello, I remarked on the "Mohammed Ali 1978 World Champion" button he had pinned to his shirt.

"Yeah my law firm represented him. He was an extremely nice man. Usually very quiet in meetings but always very gracious and thankful."

*walks off with his Schnauzer*

😶
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:22 PM on June 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


The Paul Simon thing is uncomfortable

You may be reading too far into it. It was a tribute to a great man & the audience clearly understood that. In the end, the fighter still remains.
posted by scalefree at 12:25 PM on June 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


Ali refused to be drafted in 1966, before widespread opposition to the Vietnam War.

Again, Ali did not dodge the draft. He was literally drafted. He refused induction after he was drafted.

This is not just a semantic difference. Draft dodging was not illegal. People dodging the draft used all sorts of legal loopholes to avoid being drafted. Political influence on the draft boards, medical deferments, college deferments, family deferments. That is how people like Dick Cheney, Donald Trump and Mitt Romney avoided the draft.

Ali was a very famous person in 1966. He had won an Olympic gold medal and was the heavyweight champion of the world. He could easily have parlayed his fame into one of the legal draft dodging deferments, or served in celebrity status like Ronald Reagan and Elvis Presley.

But Ali did not dodge the draft. He purposely allowed himself to be drafted so that he could publicly refuse induction as a moral principle. He used his fame not to dodge the draft but to raise the consciousness of Americans about the immorality of the Vietnam War, especially as it affected African-Americans.
posted by JackFlash at 12:26 PM on June 4, 2016 [61 favorites]


There are days when I think "all humans everywhere are garbage fires, but then there's Muhammad Ali". Sigh.
posted by maxwelton at 12:42 PM on June 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


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posted by blurker at 12:47 PM on June 4, 2016


So after I posted my comment above, I went to work. I wait tables at a breakfast place in the white-flight suburbs of Birmingham, AL. We were slammed, as usual for a Saturday morning. Around ten AM, one of our regulars comes in, Mr. S. Mr. S is an African-American guy in his late 60s, maybe early 70s. I happened to be working the counter today, and that's where Mr. S likes to sit. He ordered his usual (2 over medium, hamburger steak, hash browns, biscuit, side of sliced tomatoes). I brought him coffee and he gestured to the TV, which was tuned to CNN. "Ali was something else," he said, shaking his head. "These young kids just don't know." I agreed. We chatted a bit and I went about my business. When Mr. S finished eating, he stood up, coffee cup in hand, and addressed the room. "If I may," he said, and the 70 almost all white people in the room turned to look at him. Mr. S raised his coffee cup. "To The Greatest of all time. Muhammad Ali!" Seventy coffee cups and water glasses went up. "The greatest," everyone echoed. Mr. S drained his coffee, smiled a sad smile, and looked at me. "Ali changed the world," he said, and walked to the door.

I had to step off the floor for a minute to wipe the tears away.

Muhammad Ali changed the world.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:47 PM on June 4, 2016 [90 favorites]


Thanks for sharing BOP. I love that this happened. The power of his influence, the ability to bring together people of all walks in mutual adoration and respect. The Greatest indeed!
posted by Fizz at 1:01 PM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Paul Simon thing is uncomfortable: "...and he cries out in his anger and his shame..." Surely not Muhammad Ali

I remember reading that The Boxer was more of a nod to Bob Dylan than anyone else -- always up for some kind of fight.

This is not just a semantic difference. Draft dodging was not illegal. People dodging the draft used all sorts of legal loopholes to avoid being drafted. Political influence on the draft boards, medical deferments, college deferments, family deferments. That is how people like Dick Cheney, Donald Trump and Mitt Romney avoided the draft.

worth noting: not only slime balls dodged the draft. Very many dodgers were young men who abhorred the Vietnam War and took action to avoid being part of the machine that was waging it. Very many of them (the ones who couldn't call on family-friends-connections to pull the relevant strings) ended up fleeing to Canada.
posted by philip-random at 1:07 PM on June 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


I was 9 years old when my remote corner of the world went wild.


.
posted by infini at 1:08 PM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I hate boxing and think it's braindamaging and horrible, but always loved Muhammed Ali as a kid. He was always everywhere doing his rhymes (long before everybody was rapping) and his awesome bravado that belied his sense of humor. His exchanges with Howard Cosell are burned in my childhood memory.

When he lit the Olympic torch and his hands were shaking, it was triumphant but so hard to watch. It made me cry at work when we had the olympics on TV in the lobby. He did not deserve (no one does) that indignity and pain.

Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee. We love you.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 1:11 PM on June 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


.

The world is a lot smaller and duller today.

Muhammed Ali came to my crappy UK town in 2009, I couldn't be there but I can't help staring at the spot when I go past, it's incredible that such a legend and embodiment of so much history was ON OUR HIGH STREET

(Also, in a meeting room at VW HQ in Wolfsburg there is a boot lid on the wall signed by himself. I regret never working out how to nick it.)
posted by runincircles at 1:15 PM on June 4, 2016


in case this hasn't been posted yet:
Black Superman
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 1:15 PM on June 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


do'h. well, it's worth hearing again!
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 1:16 PM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have read every single comment, y'all.

I'm crying alone in a hotel room, late at night here after a conference.
posted by infini at 1:19 PM on June 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


How many hot taeks would we be getting from the sportswriters celebrating Ali today to if LeBron decided tomorrow to be an active political campaigner for economic justice or an end to US troops in the Middle East.
posted by JPD at 1:35 PM on June 4, 2016 [7 favorites]




Ali's daughter, Hana Ali, has this to say about his final moments. Even in death he was a giant among men.
posted by scalefree at 1:52 PM on June 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


How many hot taeks would we be getting from the sportswriters celebrating Ali today to if LeBron decided tomorrow to be an active political campaigner for economic justice or an end to US troops in the Middle East.

The irony of his being lauded so much in death and yet pilloried by a large portion of America during his life, for his political activism and faith.
posted by Fizz at 1:55 PM on June 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


John Scalzi has a beautiful tribute to Ali on his blog.
He was Muhammad Ali and there will never be another like him. I cried for him when I was eight because I did not understand why he was The Greatest of All Time. I understand now. I cry for him again because I do.
posted by Lexica at 2:22 PM on June 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Very many dodgers were young men who abhorred the Vietnam War and took action to avoid being part of the machine that was waging it. Very many of them (the ones who couldn't call on family-friends-connections to pull the relevant strings) ended up fleeing to Canada.

Sorry for the derail, but this is not correct. People who went to Canada were not draft dodgers because going to Canada did not prevent you from being drafted. They went to Canada to avoid induction.

Dodging the draft was to use legal loopholes to avoid being called up for induction into the military. Dodging the draft means never being drafted. Dodging the draft was perfectly legal.

The people who went to Canada were not draft dodgers. They were people who were called up for enlistment, in fact drafted, but then refused to be inducted. Unlike draft dodging, refusing induction is a crime. Some of the people drafted who went to Canada simply did not have the means to find a legal draft loophole. Others entered Canada as a matter of conscience. They had the privilege and means to dodge the draft but chose not to. But they were not draft dodgers. They were in fact drafted.

Ali did not dodge the draft, which is perfectly legal. He was drafted and then refused induction which is a crime. In Ali's case it was a crime of conscience.
posted by JackFlash at 2:26 PM on June 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


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posted by CommonSense at 2:38 PM on June 4, 2016


I saw a news piece on his death quoting some milquetoast condolences by Trump....who must be pissed everyone is praising a Muslim.
posted by ersatz at 2:46 PM on June 4, 2016


Sorry for the derail, but

Canada and the Vietnam War
3.1 Draft Dodgers


This is the last I'll post in this regard. But respectfully, I believe you're making too much of semantics in this regard. I'm currently in a community in British Columbia that, though it pre-existed the Vietnam War, has pretty much become what it is because of people who call themselves draft dodgers.

The BBC stated that "as many as 60,000 young American men dodged the draft."[10] Estimates of the total number of American citizens who moved to Canada due to their opposition to the war range from 50,000 to 125,000[11] This exodus was "the largest politically motivated migration from the United States since the United Empire Loyalists moved north to oppose the American Revolution."[12] Major communities of war resisters formed in Montreal, the Slocan Valley, British Columbia, and on Baldwin Street in Toronto, Ontario.

posted by philip-random at 2:53 PM on June 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


I saw a news piece on his death quoting some milquetoast condolences by Trump....who must be pissed everyone is praising a Muslim.

Donald Trump Suddenly Remembers Muhammad Ali

Donald Trump cynically mourns Muhammad Ali, who tore apart his proposed Muslim ban
posted by homunculus at 3:04 PM on June 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


I agree with philip-random about the semantics of draft-dodging, and Ali was one of my heroes when I (legally, thanks to an amazingly tolerant draft board) dodged it myself (and has been one of my heroes ever since, of course).

.

(And can we for Allah's sake keep Trump out of this of all threads?)
posted by languagehat at 3:08 PM on June 4, 2016 [9 favorites]


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posted by motty at 3:14 PM on June 4, 2016


From November 2009:

What Muhammad Ali means to me, by President Obama
It was this quality of Ali's that I have always admired the most: his unique ability to summon extraordinary strength and courage in the face of adversity, to navigate the storm and never lose his way.

This is the quality I'm reminded of when I look at the iconic photo I've had hanging on my wall of the young fighter standing over Sonny Liston. And in the end, it was this quality that would come to define not just Ali the boxer but Ali the man — the Ali I know who made his most lasting contribution as his physical powers ebbed, becoming a force for reconciliation and peace around the world.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:22 PM on June 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


I agree with philip-random about the semantics of draft-dodging.

Last I will mention it, but if you cannot discern the difference between dodging the draft, which is perfectly legal and refusing induction which can result in jail time as in Ali's case, I guess we will just have to disagree.
posted by JackFlash at 3:25 PM on June 4, 2016


I love the end of that Roger Ebert piece about watching Rocky II with Muhammad Ali:
Muhammad Ali got up carefully, so as not to wake Hana, and handed his daughter to Veronica.

"A great movie," he said. "A big hit. It has all the ingredients. Love, violence, emotion. The excitement never dulled."

What do you think about the way the fight turned out?

"For the black man to come out superior," Ali said, "would be against America's teachings. I have been so great in boxing they had to create an image like Rocky, a white image on the screen, to counteract my image in the ring. America has to have its white images, no matter where it gets them. Jesus, Wonder Woman, Tarzan and Rocky.”
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 3:26 PM on June 4, 2016 [26 favorites]




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posted by evilDoug at 5:00 PM on June 4, 2016


I just watched both Liston fights (I, II).

It's just astonishing to watch Ali in that first fight. Liston was fearsome, his upper arms and upper body are massive, and any other fighter than Ali would naturally have protected their face, allowing Liston to repeatedly close in with body blows which would have badly weakened them allowing Liston to finally deliver a KO punch. Ali was having none of that -- he danced around with his fists low, sometimes below his waist, and Liston would continually reach in at attempts at Ali's unprotected face. But Ali had a two-inch reach on Liston and had a preternatural sense of staying right at the limit of Liston's extension as well as unbelievable dodging reflexes, often just twisting and turning his entire upper body out of the way at the last instant. As Ali was leading Liston on a continual dance around the ring, with Liston constantly making ineffective jabs and swings at Ali, Ali every now and then would connect when Liston left himself open. Liston got more and more tired, and slower, and then Ali opens up two cuts on Liston's face.

As the fifth round opened, Ali was complaining of something in his right eye. To my mind, there was as much genius in Ali's surviving that round as anything else he did in that fight. He kept his cool even though he couldn't see, either kept Liston at a distance or pulled Liston into a clench and just ate away at the clock. Any other fighter might have panicked and gave Liston the opening for the knockout punch he wanted to deliver, but Ali just kept his cool and stayed out of trouble until the round ended.

And then in the sixth round Ali was fine. He could see, he was confident, and Liston was hurt and tired. If Liston ever had a chance in that fight, it was during the fifth round, and it never happened. In the sixth round Ali was fully in control and Liston was both dominated physically and, crucially, mentally. It was over.

There's a lot of controversy about why Liston didn't get up to start the seventh round. But he'd entered the fight with a hurt shoulder. He hadn't taken Ali seriously, either. He, along with everyone else, expected to end the fight with a knockout in the first round. I think that Liston was beat and he'd never really experienced that before. He was demoralized.

The very controversial second fight is really odd. Ali won in an knockout in the first round, with an overhand right hook that almost no one even saw, that put Liston on the canvas. I played that half-second over and over about fifteen times, it was a brilliant response by Ali -- Liston had extended with a left and instantly Ali came over the top of Liston's arm with a right into Liston's chin. It was blindingly fast. Liston went down and there was confusion between the referee and the timekeeper about counting Liston out -- Ali should have moved (or been moved) to his corner while the ref took up the count, but the ref was confused by Ali's taunting of Liston and Liston was (possibly) confused in not hearing the ref count. But I think that was a real punch and Liston was really stunned. The ref moved away from the fighters to check with the timekeeper, Liston got to his feet and they started fighting again, and then the ref realized that the timekeeper had counted Liston out and so called the KO. It was really weird and I can see why people were upset and suspicious. But, in the end, I think that Ali both delivered a strong counterpunch to Liston and that Liston, again, wasn't quite prepared to be hurt by Ali.

These two fights bracket my birth -- they're not fights I watched at the time. My personal experience watching Ali fight was later. But watching these two fights when Ali was so young and in his prime, it's just ... amazing. I don't have words. What's beautiful about Ali is that he wasn't a brawler, he was an artist. He outmoved and outfought and outthought his opponents. He was a brilliant strategist and tactician and he was a dancer in the ring.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:12 PM on June 4, 2016 [12 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich: What's beautiful about Ali is that he wasn't a brawler, he was an artist. He outmoved and outfought and outthought his opponents.

The saying "styles make fights" could've been invented for The Rumble in the Jungle. Ali had been beaten in 15 rounds by Frazier; Frazier was destroyed by Foreman, 6 knockdowns in the first round and a half; it seemed obvious that Foreman would make equally quick work of Ali.

And yet...
posted by clawsoon at 5:50 PM on June 4, 2016


NBC aired a Bob Costas eulogy of Ali during this evening's Stanley Cup game. In which Costas said Ali had failings and that, "Ali's youthful embrace of the Nation of Islam was misguided."

Fuck NBC, is what I'm saying.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:15 PM on June 4, 2016 [16 favorites]


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posted by Faintdreams at 7:19 PM on June 4, 2016


NBC quoted Dick Gregory last night.
posted by goofyfoot at 7:28 PM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


You stand on a stage, with all eyes and ears on you, and laurels on your feet, and you use that moment as to promote social justice and protest senseless violence, both aware and willing to pay the price of your dissent. The only real purpose of success, of being great at something in the service of bettering the world. Muhammad Ali was not just a great athlete but a true athlete, embodying the spirit of sports as a playful, bloodless way for humanity to mock violence in order to disarm it instead of glorify it.

Looking at the self-involved masturbation that has become sports, with athletes looting money and fame without any understanding of the responsibility sports has towards society, it makes the loss of his passing even greater.
posted by ariadne_88 at 7:45 PM on June 4, 2016 [9 favorites]




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posted by gusandrews at 9:51 PM on June 4, 2016


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Thank you, Muhammad Ali. Rest in Peace. Many thanks too for all the thoughts shared in this thread; I know and respect Muhammad Ali but I'm younger, was ignorant, and now I'm learning how thoughtfully and thoroughly he shifted our world. Brightens it.
posted by one teak forest at 1:27 AM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


TIL: Muhammad Ali's original name, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr, originated (via MA's father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr) with this fighter and anti-slavery politician. He sounds like quite a character:
Clay was elected to three terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives, but he lost support among Kentucky voters as he promoted ending slavery. His anti-slavery activism earned him violent enemies. During a political debate in 1843, he survived an assassination attempt by a hired gun, named Sam Brown. Despite being shot in the chest, Clay defended himself. He seriously wounded Brown with his Bowie knife and threw him over an embankment.

In 1845, Clay began publishing an anti-slavery newspaper, True American, in Lexington, Kentucky. Within a month he received death threats, had to arm himself, and regularly barricaded the armored doors of his newspaper office for protection, besides setting up two four-pounder cannons inside. Shortly after, a mob of about 60 men broke into his office and seized his printing equipment. To protect his venture, Clay set up a publication center in Cincinnati, Ohio, a center of abolitionists in the free state, but continued to reside in Kentucky.

Clay served in the Mexican-American War as a captain with the 1st Kentucky Cavalry from 1846 to 1847. He opposed the annexation of Texas and expansion of slavery into the Southwest. While making a speech for abolition in 1849, Clay was attacked by the six Turner brothers, who beat, stabbed and tried to shoot him. In the ensuing fight, Clay fought off all six and, using his Bowie knife, killed Cyrus Turner.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:10 AM on June 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


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posted by hollyholly at 5:06 AM on June 5, 2016


Costas said Ali had failings and that, "Ali's youthful embrace of the Nation of Islam was misguided."

This is clearly one of those times when sportswriters should keep their opinions about non-sports topics to themselves. Just because they are paid to talk about some kinds of things does not make them qualified to talk about everything.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:31 AM on June 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


Great stories and links from all in this thread, thanks. Gah, so many of my lifetime icons dying off this year, the obits are playing out like a sad, warped version of "this is your life" for me.

I love the old clips - they show so much context about values, race, culture, and pop culture of the day and the impact he had.

Ali was such a force and if he had just been an athlete, that would have been more than enough, he'd have achieved massive fame and respect. But he was so much more, such a complex person. I liked that Robert Lipsyte piece linked above, which shows that complexity. It's hard to imagine now the force of the controversy when he changed his name, embraced Islam, and refused to go to Viet Nam having his title and career stripped away. That act of pure courage and conviction was just too damn black and arrogant for most of white America, a black man who did not play by the rules. He inspired the black community and challenged and expanded the thinking of many of his white fans by being brash, frank and open about the black experience. I watched adults in my world move along a spectrum played out over years - from delighted fandom to a growing mix of disapproval/discomfort/anger, then back to begrudging respect and ultimately into revived fandom and a deeper, more sincere respect.

A few things I read & enjoyed last night:

The Passion of Muhammad Ali - with the iconic photo of Ali as St Sebastian

Story behind the St Sebastian Ali photo

Sam Cooke and Cassius Clay in 1963 or 1964

Muhammad Ali through the eyes of photographers who knew him best (a 2014 article/feature)

Two stories that Charlie Pierce recommended on his feed:
Muhammad Ali was the greatest -- and it was never enough | Dave Kindred

Muhammad Ali: Why they called him 'The Greatest' and why I called him my friend | Jerry Izenberg
posted by madamjujujive at 7:37 AM on June 5, 2016 [8 favorites]


If the measure of greatness is to gladden the heart of every human being on the face of the earth, then he truly was the greatest. In every way he was the bravest, the kindest and the most excellent of men.
Bob Dylan
June 4, 2016

posted by y2karl at 8:30 AM on June 5, 2016 [10 favorites]


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posted by lester at 9:08 AM on June 5, 2016


Joe Frazier Never Forgave Ali for Calling Him “Gorilla”: "There is no way to justify Ali calling him a “gorilla” and an “Uncle Tom” before their fights. The taunts are even more disgusting if they were merely to boost ticket sales, commerce over decency from a self-righteous religionist. We’ll chalk it up to yet another Ali paradox."
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:13 AM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


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posted by genehack at 10:51 AM on June 5, 2016


Mohamed Ali's Life in Poetry, Activism and Trash Talk.

"Some of the Louisville Lip's trash talk:

Before beating Floyd Patterson in 1965: “I'll beat him so bad, he'll need a shoehorn to put his hat on.”

Before taking on heavyweight champion Sonny Liston in 1964: “I'll hit Liston with so many punches from so many angles he'll think he's surrounded.”
...
On boxing: “It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.”"
posted by storybored at 11:17 AM on June 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


There is no tribute on the Nation of Islam web page. I found this with google:

Muhammad Ali's New Spiritual Quest
He's given up religion in favor of spirituality and he's embraced Sufism, says Hana Ali of her father.


an interview that belief net did with his daughter in 2005. They mention Hazrat Inayat Khan and from there google leads to THE INAYATI ORDER, but they don't have a tribute either.
posted by bukvich at 3:54 PM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


I watched the controversial interview with Michael Parkinson last night. You can watch or read the full transcript at The Mirror.
posted by unliteral at 7:06 PM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


ƸӜƷ

So glad he was born. He will be missed.
posted by nickyskye at 10:58 PM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


As a New York Times commentator wrote recently, Ali might have been this country's truly free black man. He was nobody's Negro, not even when that was how we were known. Paradoxical, yes? But free.

Rest in Power.

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posted by nubianinthedesert at 8:10 AM on June 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Regarding Ali's resistance to the Vietnam War, "Today's Athletes Owe Everything to Ali", NYT, 2000/04/30, (emph. added):
Widespread protests against the Vietnam War had not yet begun, but with that one phrase, Ali articulated the reason to oppose the war for a generation of young Americans, and his words served as a touchstone for the racial and antiwar upheavals that would rock the 60's. Ali's example inspired Martin Luther King Jr. -- who had been reluctant to alienate the Johnson administration and its support of the civil-rights agenda -- to voice his own opposition to the war for the first time.
Can you imagine being the top athlete in your sport, perhaps the greatest athlete in the world, and having that be, at best, only the second-most significant part of your life?
posted by mhum at 11:46 AM on June 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


Two very small things to add:

Ali was the subject of an early 'brush with fame' incident for me. While attending a science fiction convention in Louisville in 1975, I stepped onto an elevator* with several costumed loonies -- and there was Muhammad Ali (with his entourage), larger than life.

One of the other fen asked him if he was there for the convention -- he said no. I didn't say much -- mumbled "Nicetameetcha" or something. What else to say? "I hate boxing, but I read allaboucha in Young Olympic Champions back when your name was Cassius Clay"?

I still don't know what Ali was doing in a hotel in his hometown less than three months before the "Thrilla in Manilla", but there it is.

= = =

In the immediate cultural aftermath of the 9-11 attacks, the bombastic Concert for New York has eclipsed the earlier, quieter, America: A Tribute to Heroes. But Muhammad Ali appeared in the latter, attended by Will Smith.

If you don't want to watch the clip, here's what Ali said:
I'm here because of the terrible thing that happened the other day. I’m a Muslim. I’ve been a Muslim for 20 years. And I'm against killing and violence, and all Muslims are against it. I think the people should know the real truth about Islam. You know me. I’m a boxer. I’ve been called the greatest of all time. People recognize me for being a boxer and a man of truth. And I wouldn’t be here representing Islam if it was really like the terrorists make it look. I think that all the people should know the truth, and come to recognize the truth, because Islam is peace -- against killing, murder, and the terrorists, and the people doing that in the name of Islam are wrong, and if I had a chance I would do something about it.
You can also see him standing with the chorus here as Willie Nelson leads the singing of America The Beautiful**.

The man appeared on an international television broadcast a week after 9-11 to speak in defence of Islam (and against violence), with full-on Parkinsons so bad he could barely stand still or speak. I don't know or care how many men he knocked down with his fists earlier in life -- this here is bad-ass.

-------------------------------------
* What is it about elevators? About ten years later I found myself sharing an elevator with Manute Bol during his brief -- let's say 'tenure' -- at Cleveland State University. [!?]

** There are several clips of this performance on Youtube; this one has the least Clint Eastwood intro in it, about 10 seconds.
posted by Herodios at 12:59 PM on June 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


Democracy Now: Remembering Muhammad Ali
posted by homunculus at 2:33 PM on June 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Amy Goodman's story is the best.

In my name and the name of all Muslims in America, I declare support for the Palestinian struggle to liberate their homeland and oust the Zionist invaders.

Did CNN carry that one? How about CBS? The BBC?

Her fund raiser managers' hair must have stood straight up.
posted by bukvich at 3:58 PM on June 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ta-Nehisi Coates: Bob Costas To Muhammad Ali—"Well Actually..."
posted by homunculus at 7:13 PM on June 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Huh. That gives a quite different impression of the original Cassius Clay. I hope someone incorporates its points in the Wikipedia article I linked.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:57 PM on June 6, 2016




fwiw Billy Crystal, creator of this tasteless atrocity, is one of the people Ali chose to deliver eulogies, along with Bill Clinton and Bryant Gumbel.

Also, Bob Costas is a comically sanctimonious prick, isn't he?
posted by Lyme Drop at 9:13 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Anyone still paying attention to this thread can go over to WDRB.com and see their live stream of Ali's funeral procession through Louisville right now (11:42am EDT, it's about to draw to a close, actually) and his memorial service at 2pm EDT later today.
posted by magstheaxe at 8:41 AM on June 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


C-span.org has a good stream of the memorial service.
posted by kimberussell at 12:33 PM on June 10, 2016


Eyerolling at the complaints on twitter about how the funeral was all nice and inspirational until people made it political. Some people are just morons.
posted by tavella at 4:24 PM on June 10, 2016


Michael Lerner knocked it out of the park in his Eulogy at the funeral of Mohammed Ali.
posted by adamvasco at 1:55 PM on June 12, 2016


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