Tags: | cassius | clay | ali | muhammad

Muhammad Ali Will Never Be Forgotten

Image: Muhammad Ali Will Never Be Forgotten
(Franka Bruns/AP)

Friday, 10 Jun 2016 09:35 AM Current | Bio | Archive

One week ago today, on June 3, people around the world mourned the loss of Muhammad Ali.

Dead at the age of 74, Ali, perhaps the greatest boxer ever, died after a 32 year battle with Parkinson’s disease. May we pray for the peace of his family, his many admirers and his critics. We pray that Muhammad Ali be remembered not only as a man who won in a boxing ring, but who tirelessly waged war on the battlefield for justice.

Here I provide my thoughts on the boxing legend.

Ali was born with the name Cassius Marcellus Clay. That's who I met in the mid 1960s at a "Fair Housing Rally" led by my daddy, the Rev. A.D. King, pastor of Zion Baptist Church, in Louisville, Ky. Daddy and his brother, Martin Luther King Jr., were Baptist preachers and civil rights leaders. I was a youth organizer in the civil rights movement in those days.

Ali, a native of Louisville, was a headliner in the Kentucky "open housing movement." As a contemporary of such civil rights icons as my father and uncle, and yes, the prominent and dominant Malcolm X, Ali was making a lasting mark for himself inside and outside the boxing ring. Even though he was a contentious objector of the Vietnam War, he always loved America.

Perhaps even as Malcolm X recanted from his radical Islamic teachings of hatred of the Caucasian race, changing his name to Malik Shabazz after a visit to Mecca and adapting a message of universal peace and compassion, Ali also embraced that understanding as well as a love for “the beloved community" that my uncle and dad proclaimed during their lifetimes.

While Cassius Clay was raised in a Christian home, he later converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali; in part, because he objected to the Western characterization of Jesus Christ. Yet, I believe in my heart that the Christian message that he learned from my uncle, and father impacted him, too.

Ali was not only a great boxer, but also a great man; a man of character, integrity and faith. He loved his God, his family, and the world. Yet he was a very complex personality; and like everyone, was subject to human failings.

Ali was devoted to his craft and was a fierce fighter who fought many battles, both in the ring and in his personal life. Although dealing with a debilitating disease in his latter years, he always carried himself with dignity.

The world has lost a great fighter and champion for justice.

May he rest in peace.

Dr. Alveda C. King grew up in the civil rights movement led by her uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She is director of African-American outreach for Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries. Her family home in Birmingham, Ala., was bombed, as was her father’s church office in Louisville, Ky. Alveda herself was jailed during the open housing movement. Read more reports from Dr. Alveda C. King — Click Here Now.

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One week ago today, on June 3, people around the world mourned the loss of Muhammad Ali.
cassius, clay, ali, muhammad
Friday, 10 Jun 2016 09:35 AM
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