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Monday, June 06, 2016

Muhammad Ali, 'the greatest', remembered as boxer who transcended sports

Ali to be honored with Muslim funeral service By Reuters Published: June 9, 2016 8 SHARES Share Tweet Email Boxing legend Muhammad Ali. PHOTO: REUTERS Boxing legend Muhammad Ali. PHOTO: REUTERS LOUISVILLE, KY, US: The world begins two final days of mourning for Muhammad Ali on Thursday when the boxing great will be honored with a Muslim funeral a day before receiving a final goodbye with an interfaith service. Ali, one of the transcendent figures of the 20th Century for his boxing prowess, showmanship and opposition to the Vietnam War in the turbulent 1960s and ’70s, died last Friday of septic shock in an Arizona hospital. He was 74. Some 15,000 people are expected at the jenazah, the Arabic word for funeral, set for noon (1600 GMT) at Freedom Hall in Ali’s home town of Louisville, Kentucky, the venue where Ali defeated Willi Besmanoff on November 29, 1961. Imam Zaid Shakir, co-founder of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California, will lead the service. Muhammad Ali’s daughter posts shot from final Facetime conversation with her father Ali and his family planned his funeral for 10 years, making sure it would honor his Muslim faith. Ali’s braggadocio startled white America even when he went by his birth name, Cassius Clay. He further shocked US society after he joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name in 1964. In the 1970s, Ali converted to Sunni Islam, the largest denomination among Muslims worldwide. Late in life he embraced Sufism, a mystical school of the faith. He was admired worldwide, and gave US Muslims a hero they could share with the American mainstream. “To be properly prepared for burial, prayed over and then buried is a right owed to every single Muslim,” Shakir said in a statement issued by the Ali family spokesperson. “If no one fulfills those rights, then the entire community has fallen into sin. In the case of someone of Muhammad Ali’s stature, to leave any of those rights unfulfilled would be a crime.” What made Muhammad Ali ‘unforgivably’ black On Friday, the final service at the KFC Yum! Center will take place with luminaries such as former US President Bill Clinton, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and comedian Billy Crystal. Actor Will Smith, who portrayed Ali in a 2001 biographical film, and former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis will be among the pallbearers. On Wednesday, the city of Louisville held a celebration called the “I Am Ali” Festival. The day-long event highlighted Ali’s life through stories, music, dance and arts and crafts that had children coloring butterfly and bee masks in an homage to the boxer’s famous quote about his fighting style, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” ===================================== What made Muhammad Ali 'unforgivably' black By Reuters Published: June 9, 2016 2 SHARES Share Tweet Email Muhammad Ali, holding a book called 'Towards Understanding Islam' written by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, speaks with Muslims in London, May 1966. PHOTO: REUTERS Muhammad Ali, holding a book called 'Towards Understanding Islam' written by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, speaks with Muslims in London, May 1966. PHOTO: REUTERS Muhammad Ali’s Black Power activism may not fit neatly into the outpouring of grief, respect and reflection in the coming days and weeks after his death Friday at age 74. But it’s one of the most crucial and enduring parts of a legacy that shaped the world. By the late 1960s, Ali’s unforgiveable blackness helped him emerge as a transcendent and global figure of black liberation. He became more “black” than James Brown, the godfather of soul, who shouted to the world that he was “proud” to be black. He possessed more charisma than his friend Stokely Carmichael, who tutored the heavyweight champion on the nuances of his own groundbreaking anti-war activism. He proved more accessible than Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, who gave Ali his name as part of a successful effort to pry the young champion from the grips of his most important mentor, Malcolm X. Malcolm X in New York, October 19, 1960. PHOTO: REUTERS Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X were, like the title of the recent electrifying history of their friendship, Blood Brothers, whose shared reputations as trouble-makers hid profound intellectual energies and supple understanding of politics. Malcolm’s own star power helped shape Ali’s introduction to the world following his ascension to heavyweight champion in 1964. The two men conducted a public media tour of sorts, grabbing lunch in Harlem, touring the United Nations and verbally sparring with the large media contingent that trailed their every move. Boxer Muhammad Ali appears to take jab at Trump over Muslim comments Privately, Malcolm attempted to school the young Ali on the nuances of the Islamic faith, the contradictions of the Nation of Islam and the burdens of public fame and celebrity. Malcolm taught Ali how to speak truth to power by any means necessary. Martin Luther King Jr. (L) on August 28, 1963; Muhammad Ali. PHOTO: REUTERS This lesson proved fatal in Malcolm’s case, when former colleagues, including Ali himself, shunned him after he left the Nation of Islam. Ali would publicly regret not having stood by his mentor’s side in later years. Tutored by the Black Power Movement’s most revolutionary symbol, however, Ali would find himself unwittingly taking Malcolm’s place as America’s most well-known black Muslim. Ali’s religious beliefs and Nation of Islam membership sparked a national controversy. White promoters and business interests, who controlled much of the boxing establishment, threatened to cancel future fights. Many journalists defiantly referred to the heavy-weight champ by what he labeled “my slave name” of Cassius Clay. Ali insisted that reporters and boxers “say my name” — including former champ Floyd Patterson, whom he defeated in humiliating fashion for failing to do so. Muhammad Ali: ‘Greatest’ boxer, showman, ambassador In the process, Ali paved the way for a generation of black athletes — most notably Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — to unapologetically embrace their political and religious beliefs and adopt a proud new racial identity. Black Power radicalism framed Ali’s decision to refuse the draft. Carmichael, who was then chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, and friend of Ali, popularized chants of “Hell no, we won’t go!” in explosive speeches around the nation. Martin Luther King Jr. soon followed Ali and Carmichael, lending gravitas to the burgeoning anti-war movement through his April 4, 1967 Riverside Church speech in New York City. Ali’s refusal to be inducted into the military shortly after turned resistance against the Vietnam War into a movement that transcended boundaries between sports and politics. In the aftermath of defeating Sonny Liston in 1964, when Ali became heavyweight champion of the world, he famously remarked, “I shook up the world!” Ali’s words anticipated the global response to his anti-war stance, actions that were shaped by his growing participation in the Black Power Movement. Stripped of his livelihood as a boxer and denied legal protection of being a conscientious objector, Ali went on the offensive. He defiantly confronted the U.S. foreign policy establishment. He outraged U.S. public officials by declaring that the Vietnamese people never “called me a nigger.” Ali echoed Black Power activists’ critique of American hegemony. He challenged the usefulness of the Cold War as an organizing international principle, and stood in solidarity with the “Third World” against foreign intervention. Muhammad Ali poses with gloves in this undated portrait. PHOTO: REUTERS Ali became the most visible symbol of Black Power’s radical critique of American imperialism, structural racism and white supremacy. Like the early Malcolm X, he used the Nation of Islam’s belief in racial separatism as a shield against the political violence associated with efforts at racial integration. He wielded black history as a sword against white claims of racial inferiority. Ali embraced the rough edges and the plainer surfaces of black identity in a manner that was unapologetically, at times unforgivably, black. Captivating the student body at Howard University, Ali ridiculed the oppressive breadth of white supremacy in popular culture, noting how “even the King of the Jungle, Tarzan in black Africa is white!” He then quipped that in heaven, black people were in the kitchen fixing the “milk and honey” for their white counterparts to eat. ‘Indian Republic Day black day’: The longstanding symbols of endurance call for liberation Black Power shaped Ali’s global political imagination, offering him a framework to link his religious beliefs, athletic gifts, and outspoken personality. His odyssey helped fuel campus protests, emboldened medal-winning black athletes to raise defiant black-gloved fists at the Mexico City Olympics of 1968, brought anti-war sentiment into American living rooms and contoured wider debates over race and democracy that endure to this day. Ali never rejected his political radicalism; he merely refined it. He incorporated many themes of his youthful activism into his career as a human-rights activist, philanthropist and global ambassador. In old age, Ali became a universal icon — one whose legend at times stubbornly resisted the facts of his complicated legacy. ======================================== Sat Jun 4, 2016 | 11:13 PM EDT 5h ago | 01:03 Harlem fans pay tribute to Muhammad Ali Muhammad Ali, 'the greatest', remembered as boxer...X By Ricardo Arduengo SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Reuters) - The death of Muhammad Ali, the former heavyweight champion known as much for his political activism as his boxing brilliance, triggered a worldwide outpouring of affection and admiration for one of the best-known figures of the 20th century. Ali, who had long suffered from Parkinson's syndrome which impaired his speech and made the once-graceful athlete almost a prisoner in his own body, died on Friday at age 74. The cause of death was septic shock due to unspecified natural causes, a family spokesman said on Saturday. Ali was admitted to a Phoenix-area hospital, HonorHealth, with a respiratory ailment on Monday. "He’ll be remembered as a man of the world who spoke his mind and wasn’t afraid to take a chance and went out of his way to be a kind, benevolent individual that really changed the world," the family spokesman, Bob Gunnell, said at a news conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. Despite Ali's failing health, his youthful proclamation that he was "the greatest" rang true until the end for millions of people around the world who respected him for his courage both inside and outside the ring. Along with a fearsome reputation as a fighter, Ali spoke out against racism, war and religious intolerance, while projecting an unshakeable confidence that became a model for African-Americans at the height of the civil rights era and beyond. Stripped of his world boxing crown for refusing to join the U.S. Army and fight in Vietnam, Ali returned in triumph by recapturing the title and starring in some of the sport's most unforgettable bouts. "I think when you talk about Muhammad Ali, as great an athlete, as great a boxer as he was, he was the greatest boxer of all time, he means so much more to the United States and the world," said Ali's long-time friend, boxing promoter Bob Arum. "He was a transformative figure in our society." Bursting onto the boxing scene in the 1960s with a brashness that threatened many whites, Ali would come to be embraced by Americans of all races for his grace, integrity and disarming sense of humor. "In the end, he went from being reviled to being revered," civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson told CNN on Saturday. Pam Dorrough, a tourist in New York's Times Square, admired Ali's refusal to apologize for what he believed. "The confidence - and I know everybody thought it was an arrogance about him - he always projected a confidence," she said. "And he stood by that." President Barack Obama, the first African-American to reach the White House, said Ali was "a man who fought for us" and placed him in the pantheon of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela. "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," Obama said in a statement. "But Ali stood his ground. And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today." Ali's daughter Maryum said on Saturday: "I am happy my father no longer struggles. He is in a better place. God is the greatest." Few could argue with his athletic prowess at his peak in the 1960s. With his dancing feet and quick fists, he could - as he put it - "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee." But Ali became much more than a sportsman. He spoke boldly against racism in the '60s as well as against the Vietnam War. Ali met scores of world leaders, during and after his championship reign, and for a time he was considered the most recognizable person on earth, known even in remote villages in countries far from the United States. TRIBUTES POUR IN Ali's diagnosis of Parkinson's came about three years after he retired from boxing in 1981. Despite his failing health, he appeared at the opening ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, stilling the tremors in his hands enough to light the Olympic flame. ‹ Muhammad Ali, along with his wife Lonnie, react to a story told by actor Kevin Costner at the Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night awards banquet in Phoenix, April 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Topping Muhammad Ali, along with his wife Lonnie, react to a story told by actor Kevin Costner at the Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night awards banquet in Phoenix, ... Reuters/Jeff Topping + A man has his photograph taken near a makeshift memorial to the late Muhammad Ali in New York, U.S., June 4, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson A man has his photograph taken near a makeshift memorial to the late Muhammad Ali in New York, U.S., June 4, 2016. Reuters/Lucas Jackson Muhammad Ali poses with his boxing gloves. Action Images/Sporting Pictures Muhammad Ali poses with his boxing gloves. Action Images/Sporting Pictures Muhammad Ali cuddling his daughters Laila, (L)and Hana at a hotel in London, December 1978. Action Images/MSI Muhammad Ali cuddling his daughters Laila, (L)and Hana at a hotel in London, December 1978. Action Images/MSI Signs and flowers left by fans of the late Muhammad Ali, the former world heavyweight boxing champion, at the Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. June 4, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II Signs and flowers left by fans of the late Muhammad Ali, the former world heavyweight boxing champion, at the Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. June ... Reuters/John Sommers II + Chelise Stepson lays flowers as she pays her respects to the late Muhammad Ali, the former world heavyweight boxing champion, at the Ali Center court yard in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. June 4, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II Chelise Stepson lays flowers as she pays her respects to the late Muhammad Ali, the former world heavyweight boxing champion, at the Ali Center court yard i... Reuters/John Sommers II + Alvin Mason pays his respects to the late Muhammad Ali, the former world heavyweight boxing champion, at the Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. June 4, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II Alvin Mason pays his respects to the late Muhammad Ali, the former world heavyweight boxing champion, at the Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. June 4... Reuters/John Sommers II + Muhammad Ali with his trainer Angelo Dundee ahead of his fight with Ernie Terrell at the Astrodome, Houston, February 1967. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali with his trainer Angelo Dundee ahead of his fight with Ernie Terrell at the Astrodome, Houston, February 1967. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali, World Heavyweight Champion and challenger, Henry Cooper fight at Highbury Stadium, London, for the World Heavyweight Boxing title, May 1966. The fight was stopped in the sixth round due to cut above Cooper's left eye.Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali, World Heavyweight Champion and challenger, Henry Cooper fight at Highbury Stadium, London, for the World Heavyweight Boxing title, May 1966. ... + Muhammad Ali training at his Pennsylvanian mountain retreat for his fight against George Foreman in Zaire, August 1974.Action Images/MSI Muhammad Ali training at his Pennsylvanian mountain retreat for his fight against George Foreman in Zaire, August 1974.Action Images/MSI Muhammad Ali's second match with Leon Spinks, at the Louisiana Superdome, September 1978, went badly for Spinks. A now in shape Ali rarely lost control, winning back his title by a unanimous fifteen-round decision. Ali regained the title, becoming the first three-time heavyweight champion. Action Images/MSI Muhammad Ali's second match with Leon Spinks, at the Louisiana Superdome, September 1978, went badly for Spinks. A now in shape Ali rarely lost control, win... + Joe Frazier lands a left hook on Muhammad Ali during the first of their three epic battles at Madison Square Garden in New York, March 1971.Action Images / MSI/File Photo Joe Frazier lands a left hook on Muhammad Ali during the first of their three epic battles at Madison Square Garden in New York, March 1971.Action Images / ... + Muhammad Ali predicts that he will in the fifth round before his fight with Henry Cooper at Wembley Stadium in London, June 1963. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali predicts that he will in the fifth round before his fight with Henry Cooper at Wembley Stadium in London, June 1963. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali reads the newspapers in London the day after his World Title Fight win against Henry Cooper, June 1963. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali reads the newspapers in London the day after his World Title Fight win against Henry Cooper, June 1963. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali and his entourage try to wind up Ken Norton ahead of their third fight in New York, September 1976. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali and his entourage try to wind up Ken Norton ahead of their third fight in New York, September 1976. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali trains for his second fight with Leon Spinks in New Orleans, August 1978, Ali managed to win back the Heavyweight title for a third and final time. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali trains for his second fight with Leon Spinks in New Orleans, August 1978, Ali managed to win back the Heavyweight title for a third and final t... + Muhammad Ali fights Ken Norton at Yankee Stadium in the third fight between the two heavyweights in New York City, September 1976.Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali fights Ken Norton at Yankee Stadium in the third fight between the two heavyweights in New York City, September 1976.Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali drops an overhand right on Leon Spinks during their second match at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, September 1978. Action Images / MSI Muhammad Ali drops an overhand right on Leon Spinks during their second match at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, September 1978. Action Images / ... + Muhammad Ali poses during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland January 2006. REUTERS/Andreas Meier Muhammad Ali poses during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland January 2006. Reuters/Andreas Meier A smiling Muhammad Ali shows his fist to reporters during an impromptu press conference in Mexico City, July 1987. REUTERS/Jorge Nunez A smiling Muhammad Ali shows his fist to reporters during an impromptu press conference in Mexico City, July 1987. Reuters/Jorge Nunez Muhammad Ali waves to the crowd during the opening ceremony of the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, September 2010. REUTERS/John Sommers II Muhammad Ali waves to the crowd during the opening ceremony of the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, September 2010. Reuters/John Sommers II Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie arrive at a hotel in Berlin, December 2005. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie arrive at a hotel in Berlin, December 2005. Reuters/Tobias Schwarz Muhammad Ali accepts the President's Award accompanied by his wife Yolanda Williams at the 40th Annual NAACP Image Awards at the Shrine auditorium in Los Angeles February 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni Muhammad Ali accepts the President's Award accompanied by his wife Yolanda Williams at the 40th Annual NAACP Image Awards at the Shrine auditorium in Los An... Reuters/Mario Anzuoni + Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie attend a Ryder Cup reception at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, September 2008. REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie attend a Ryder Cup reception at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, September 2008. Reuters/ Eddie Keogh Muhammad Ali is assisted as he enters the funeral for boxer Joe Frazier at the Enon Tabernacle Baptist church in Philadelphia, November 2011 REUTERS/Tim Shaffer Muhammad Ali is assisted as he enters the funeral for boxer Joe Frazier at the Enon Tabernacle Baptist church in Philadelphia, November 2011 Reuters/Tim Shaffer Muhammad Ali is given the Courage Award by singer Whitney Houston at the GQ Men of the Year awards show, October 1998. REUTERS/Jeff Christensen Muhammad Ali is given the Courage Award by singer Whitney Houston at the GQ Men of the Year awards show, October 1998. Reuters/Jeff Christensen Muhammad Ali takes part in pre-game ceremonies before the Florida Gators play against the Louisville Cardinals in the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl NCAA football game in New Orleans, January 2013. REUTERS/Bill Haber/Pool Muhammad Ali takes part in pre-game ceremonies before the Florida Gators play against the Louisville Cardinals in the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl NCAA football... Reuters/Bill Haber/Pool + Muhammad Ali stands with his wife Yolanda as he is introduced before the welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, May 2010. REUTERS/Steve Marcus Muhammad Ali stands with his wife Yolanda as he is introduced before the welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand ... Reuters/Steve Marcus + Muhammad Ali sits in a wheelchair as he is taken to a photo session with attendees of the 50th Convention of the World Boxing Council in Cancun, December 2012. REUTERS/Victor Ruiz Garcia Muhammad Ali sits in a wheelchair as he is taken to a photo session with attendees of the 50th Convention of the World Boxing Council in Cancun, December 20... Reuters/Victor Ruiz Garcia + Muhammad Ali watches during the first quarter of the NBA All-Star basketball game in Phoenix, February 2009. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri Muhammad Ali watches during the first quarter of the NBA All-Star basketball game in Phoenix, February 2009. Reuters/Rick Scuteri Muhammad Ali is seen with the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic stadium, July 2012. REUTERS/Max Rossi Muhammad Ali is seen with the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic stadium, July 2012. Reuters/Max Rossi Muhammad Ali sits with his wife, Yolanda, as they await the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, in Washington, January 2009. REUTERS/Jim Young Muhammad Ali sits with his wife, Yolanda, as they await the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, in Washington,... Reuters/Jim Young + Muhammad Ali, along with his wife Lonnie, react to a story told by actor Kevin Costner at the Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night awards banquet in Phoenix, April 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Topping Muhammad Ali, along with his wife Lonnie, react to a story told by actor Kevin Costner at the Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night awards banquet in Phoenix, ... Reuters/Jeff Topping + A man has his photograph taken near a makeshift memorial to the late Muhammad Ali in New York, U.S., June 4, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson A man has his photograph taken near a makeshift memorial to the late Muhammad Ali in New York, U.S., June 4, 2016. Reuters/Lucas Jackson › From Africa to East Asia to the U.S. South, news of Ali's death brought tributes across the world of sport, entertainment and politics. In Kinshasa, the city where he battled George Foreman in the 1974 "Rumble in the Jungle" - a city that was then part of Zaire and is now the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo - the fight is remembered as much for its political symbolism as for Ali's tactical brilliance in beating his hulking opponent. Ali "was an African. He was a Congolese," David Madiawi, a salesman on Kinshasa's Avenue de Commerce, said on Saturday. "He came to Congo to return to the land of his ancestors." Foreman said Ali was one of the greatest human beings he had met. "No doubt he was one of the best people to have lived in this day and age. To put him as a boxer is an injustice," he said. Manny Pacquiao, a boxer and politician in the Philippines, where Ali fought Frazier for a third time in a brutal 1975 match dubbed the "Thrilla in Manila," paid homage to Ali's legacy outside the ring. "We lost a giant today. Boxing benefited from Muhammad Ali's talents but not nearly as much as mankind benefited from his humanity," he said. Flags were flown at half staff in Louisville, Kentucky, where Ali's modest childhood home on Grand Avenue has been turned into a museum. A funeral will be held in his hometown on Friday.

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