A Black Perspective12 012  A14, 201

Page 12 

May 12, 2012
 


America's Vendetta Against Muhammad Ali

 

After the 1960 Olympics, America entered into a love affair with her Olympic light heavyweight boxing champion, Cassius Marcellus Clay. His meteoric rise into celebrity had the requisite "pull yourself up by your bootstraps storyline" to qualify him as a true American hero. He had learned the art of boxing after his bicycle was stolen. He joined the Louisville, Ky. Police Athletic League in order to learn how to deal with the thief. Here young Cassius learned the skills that would propel him to the title of "The Greatest". Boxing was a much more popular sport in 1960 than it is today and Clay became beloved by America. America called him brash when they really meant uppity. However, Clay had shown an appetite for material extravagance and America thought that this would serve as the necessary control mechanism. This proved to be a vast underestimation of the man.

Betrayal

 

Cassius Clay quickly rose through the ranks of heavyweight contenders. On February 25, 1964 he defeated Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship of the world. Immediately after the fight Cassius announced that he had joined the Nation of Islam and was a practicing Muslim. Furthermore he announced that he had changed his name and was now and forevermore to be known as Muhammad Ali. The after fight press conference became chaotic. White sport writers became enraged when Ali refused to answer any questions until they acknowledged him as Muhammad Ali. For the first time, the world heard Ali ask," what's my name?".

 

Death threats from around the United States were directed at Ali. These racists were summarily ignored and organized crime left the ranks of heavyweight boxing because none dared to test the mettle of the Nation of Islam. Ali had, as his confidante and mentor, one of the strongest Black men of the twentieth century, Malcolm X. Blacks, for the most part, were supportive, but not to the extent of rocking the boat. Whites were impotent, they could do nothing but wish that Ali be defeated in the boxing ring.

Black Hit Men

 

As usual, America found some good Negroes to carry the battle to Ali. Former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson entered the fray on behalf of America. Patterson faced Ali on November 22, 1965. He vowed to regain the heavyweight championship, "for Christianity and the United States". Ali won by a 12th round TKO. Many observers claimed that Ali carried Patterson so that he could punish him. Cleveland "Big Cat" Williams was a heavyweight that Patterson had avoided for years. Ali decided to give him a title shot on November 14, 1966. He had previously been shot by a Texas policeman. After the shooting the policeman and his wife befriended Williams. Before the fight Williams said that the policeman's wife, Miss Ann (ironically) told him to, "be sure and shut Ali's big mouth". Ali won by a TKO in the 3rd round. Ernie Terrell then jumped in to defend America's honor. Prior to his February 6, 1967 bout with Ali, Terrell refused to call Ali by his name. He insisted on referring to Ali as Cassius Clay. As Ali thoroughly beat Terrell, he could be heard repeatedly asking him, "what's my name?". Ali said that Terrell would clinch and answer, "Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Ali". Ali won a 15 round unanimous decision.

Anti Vietnam War Activist

 

Ali's draft status was changed to 1A in early 1966. As the heavyweight champion of the world, it was understood that military service would consist of making public appearances and perhaps some boxing exhibitions. Ali realized that he would be used as a recruiting tool for the army. He declared that, due to his Nation of Islam religion, he was a conscientious objector and would refuse to serve in the army. Subsequently he was drafted and ordered to be inducted into the army on April 28, 1967. Ali refused to be inducted and was tried and convicted on June 20, 1967. The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the conviction and the case eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Although Ali had a slam dunk win on the merits of the case, the Supreme Court denied him even this hollow victory. They reversed the conviction on the technicality that the Government failed to specify which charges were sustained. On June 28, 1971, Muhammad Ali was deemed to be a free man. Arguably, Ali must be considered one of the founding fathers of the Anti Vietnam War movement.

 

While Martin Luther King was dreaming of equality yet shirking his responsibilities to stand up for his anti-war views, Ali stood alone. Ali said, "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong....they never called me nigger".

 

While the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) were fighting for civil rights legislation yet refusing to speak out against the Vietnam War, Ali stood alone. Ali said, " Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights".

While the Hippies were dropping out and turning on, nothing of political significance, Ali stood alone. Ali said, " No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder, kill, and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of White slavemasters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end".

The Cost

 

Muhammad Ali paid a devastating price to be "The Greatest". Ali did not cut easily and absolutely refused to be knocked out. The world did not recognize the punishment and physical deterioration that his body was taking. By the time that he was pummeled by Larry Holmes, October 2, 1980, Ali's body was ravaged by Parkinson's Disease. The disease was brought on by repeated trauma to the head. It has taken until present day for the sports and medical establishment to understand the truly destructive effects of repeated concussions. The National Football League (NFL) is finally investigating the phenomenon.  There are many Americans who feel that Ali's current maladies are his just deserves.



1996 Olympics

 

The 1996 Olympics were held in Atlanta, Ga. Ali was chosen to light the Olympic torch and it was announced that he would be given a duplicate gold medal to replace the 1960 medal that was "lost". Ali was displaying severe symptoms of his Parkinson's Disease. He had extremely slow gait and speech, along with uncontrollable shaking. Was America truly honoring Muhammad Ali or, was America putting him on display to gloat at his condition? America neither forgets nor forgives what she considers injury. America has forgiven their arch rival Russia yet still tries to crush Fidel Castro by means of a embargo.

 

The "lost" medal from the 1960 Olympics was not lost at all. A young Cassius Clay threw it into the river from a Louisville bridge. He did so as a protestation against racism. By accepting a duplicate medal, there was an implication that racism is no longer an issue. Salt was poured into the wound by having Ali again accept a duplicate medal at the Masters golf course. This one was presented by Jack Nicklaus at a golf course where Blacks were only allowed as caddies, when Clay won the original medal. The thought must be entertained that Muhammad Ali, minus the ravages of Parkinson's Disease, would never allow this.

 

Muhammad Ali was one of the few men who lived up to the hype. The fact that he created his own hype merely placed it on a higher level. He stood up and stepped out and when he looked for his Black brothers and sisters, he found that, for the most part, he stood alone. Blacks must now stand for Ali. There can be no more spectacles like the one at the Miami Marlins baseball opener where Ali is rolled out on a golf cart to "throw out the first pitch".

Random Thoughts

 

An enterprising man in Florida, who understands America, is selling Trayvon Martin firing range targets. They are hooded silhouettes complete with an iced tea and a bag of Skittles in one hand. 
The targets sold out in two days. the seller, who chooses to remain anonymous, says that the response has been overwhelming. On a related note, the Pasadena coroner has released the autopsy report on Kendrec McDade. The unarmed Black teenager was struck by 7 bullets when he was fired upon by Pasadena police officers.

Just asking..... Why wasn't Ronald Reagan publicly honored by America when he was suffering from the ravages of Alzheimer's Disease?


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