Muhammed Ali: Issues of Race and Religion
Issues of race, religion and governmental issues Ali never shied away from. Ali was very candid about those issues which made him a disputable figure during his career. In 1964, he changed his name to Muhammed Ali “upon converting to Islam and afflicting with the Nation of Islam” (Sims, 1). Ali was likewise outstanding since he was a dark man who was candidly pleased for being dark. He wanted to convert to a Black Muslim and change his name to Muhammed Ali because he wanted a genuine African name that grasps who he is. “Cassius Clay is a slave name.
I didn’t choose it and I don’t want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name – it means beloved of God, and I insist people use it when people speak to me” says Ali (Sims, 1). People view Ali membership as “an organization that the FBI considered a threat to American security for its anti-white, separatist views” (Eig, 1). Ali’s troubles deepen even more when the Army attempted to draft him as a soldier, but he refused to join. Ali says he “saw no point in fighting dark-skinned Asians on behalf of a country that still oppressed its own dark-skinned citizens. Later, he said his religious beliefs precluded him from fighting in the war, a view roundly rejected by the court of public opinion” (Eig, 1).
He said it was against his religion. Many did not believe or comprehend that it was against Ali’s beliefs. The world thought he was avoiding the draft. Instead, of the world trying to understand, they bashed him for it. He went to court to speak about his entitlements to decline the draft. Instead, of Ali being forced in the war he was banned from boxing for a couple of years but refuted by “speaking out against the Vietnam War on college campuses” (Editors, 1). Stripping Ali’s title did not stop Ali from speaking about his religious freedom and racial inequality, just make him push forward.
During the Civil Rights Movement, Ali found himself being a spokesperson “as race riots and anti-war protests spread across America, Ali found himself at the center of the storm, and he liked it there. He says I know where I’m going, and I know the truth and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want” (Eig, 1). Eventually, the public opinion turned and accepted Muhammad Ali’s decisions. There are moments in his career that he was criticized, but Ali did not mind it. He stood up for what he believes in and eventually, others stood up with him. In today’s world religion is accepted and everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. In 1970, Ali boxing license was reinstated and so was his heavyweight title. In that year, he went back in the boxing ring harder than before to get another title.
Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson disease after three years of being retired in 1984. It appears he got the illness because throughout his career he has received numerous hits to his head which caused a brain injury. Numerous hits to the head caused degeneration of nerve cells in the brain affecting one physically, mentally, and emotionally. “Ali began showing symptoms of the disease soon after retiring from the boxing ring in 1981. But his condition was not diagnosed until three years later. By that stage he had developed tremors, his speech was slurred, and his body movements had become slow” (“Muhammad”, 1).
Ali being diagnosed with Parkinson disease did not stop him from living his life and helping others. “For the last thirty years of Ali life were devoted to raising public awareness of the debilitating neurological disorder that affects nearly 10 million people worldwide, Parkinson’s Disease” (McCallum, 1). After the diagnosis, Ali became an influential spokesperson of Parkinson disease. “During the 1990s, Muhammad Ali began heavily advocating for increased government funding for Parkinson’s Disease research, even donated his own royalties to research dollars and began an annual Celebrity Fight Night to raise money” (McCallum, 1). All the money that was donated was for Parkinson’s Disease foundations and for research purposes.
Ali also, built “The Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at the Barrow Neurological Institute” (McCallum, 1), in 1997. It was created for the reason, to research and focus on Parkinson’s Disease. “For the following ten years, more than 23,000 inquire about articles concerning Parkinson’s Disease were distributed in scientific diaries” (McCallum, 1). What is unique is that Ali did not try to hide the disease. Some people may feel ashamed hence why they might hide the disease. Ali was very upfront with his battle against Parkinson’s Disease. He educated the world about it and was not afraid to employ the world the concerning/alarming moments with living with Parkinson’s.
Ali wanted the world to know that one can live a good life with Parkinson’s Disease. For example, “such as the lighting of the Olympic cauldron, to continuously remind others that Parkinson’s is a disease to be faced with courage, grace, and humor every day” (McCallum, 1). Ali died at the age of seventy-four due to complications of Parkinson disease. Muhammad Ali’s legacy will carry on forever and not be forgotten. He has put a little of himself in everything so the world will never forget him, his success, and achievements outside of the ring.
In retirement, Ali included himself in helpful projects. “The Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, which opened in 2005, presents his boxing memorabilia of Ali but also his ideals: peace, social responsibility, and personal growth” (Marks, 1). A center that employs the history of his life. Also, built “The Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, gives treatment, research, and training for patients and families. Ali assists in transferring nourishment and medical services to places like the Ivory Coast, Indonesia, Mexico, and Morocco” (Marks, 1).
Ali even campaigns to Congress in hopes to regulate safety laws that will protect people in boxing. “In The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey in 2004, Ali examines the importance of religion and absolution as he ponders defining moments throughout his life” (Marks, 1). The projects that Ali lent a hand in were not only for himself but for others. He shares parts of his life with each project he does. Each thing he did he put a part of himself into it. What Ali gave to the world was to prevent people from living in his shoes.
In conclusion, Muhammad Ali was a man who broke records and did the unthinkable. His life was not always pleasant. He worked hard to win and if he did not he would try again until he did. Ali’s is a man who stops at nothing. Ali stands up for what he thought was right even though he knew he may receive backlash for it. He stood up and spoke his mine for controversies such as race and religion. Ali did not sugar coat anything such as his disease. He employed and educated the public that one can live a full life with Parkinson. The disease did not stop Ali from there. Ali continued to work outside of the boxing ring and so on until he could no longer.