Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, January 17th, 2019

The Greatest Muhammad Ali Passes Away


The Greatest Muhammad Ali Passes Away

Reading indiscriminately on Friday, a title “Ali and Frazier” caught my attention and I went through it with great excitement. The story said that Ali and Frazier fought three times in the greatest matches of boxing history in the late 1970s. Although Ali was knocked to the ground during the first fight, he was declared the winner in second and third matches, in New York City and Manila – an exceptional fight in the heat and humidity of the Philippines. At the age of 25, Ali had already won 29 fights. “Incredible” I said and believed that perhaps there is no greater boxing story than the legendary fights between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
Just next day, I overheard that the heavyweight champion greatest-of-all-time Muhammad Ali died early Saturday morning after he was reportedly hospitalized with respiratory problems.
Muhammad Ali, born on January 17, 1942, an American professional boxer and generally considered the greatest heavyweight in the history of the sport. He was one of the most recognized sports figures of the 20th century. Ali, originally known as Cassius Clay, was first directed toward boxing by Louisville police officer and boxing coach Joe E. Martin, who encountered the 12-year-old fuming over a thief taking his bike. He told the officer he was going to “whup” the thief. The officer told him he better learn how to box first.
As a boxer, Ali won dozens of championships – notable among these were the first Liston fight, three with rival Joe Frazier and one with George Foreman – three heavyweight titles and an Olympics gold medal. During his first heavyweight championship against Sonny Liston in 1964 he declared himself “the greatest,” a nickname that outlasted his boxing career. Shortly after that bout, Ali converted to Islam and changed his name.
Ali had a great personality and remained a prominent voice for civil rights causes long after his retirement in 1981 with a record of 56 wins, 37 by knockout, and five losses. A vocal proponent of the religion, he recently spoke out against Donald Trump over the candidate’s proposed plan to ban Muslims from the country. “Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is,” a statement attributed to Ali said. “I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world. True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so-called Islamic militants goes against the very tenets of our religion,” it added.
He became a symbol for black liberation during the 1960s and refused to fight in the Vietnam War on religious grounds stating publicly, “My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people; some poor, hungry people in the mud, for big powerful America, and shoot them for what? … No Vietcong ever called me nigger.” He was denied a boxing license in every state and stripped of his passport. As a result, he did not fight from March 1967 to October 1970, from ages 25 to almost 29, as his case worked its way through the appeal process.
The fact is that besides being a champion in the world of sport, he was a de facto hero in his social life who respected the rights and dignity of mankind. He raised his voice against injustice and cruelty. As a child, he joined boxing to punch the thief who snatched his right through stealing his bike. Therefore, he sought to live a free life as a real hero i.e. neither trample upon the people’s life and liberty nor let others curtail his freedom. In other words, to consider Ali’s life through religious or ethical perspective, he cherished morality and humanity to a great extent. He can be a role model for people, mainly for athletes to practice morality and have mercy on individuals despite being physically strong. In another item, one’s physical strength should not outweigh his/her moral and spiritual strength. Through voicing against an act of injustice, he has a message for all, including the political influential, to practice morality in all aspects of life.
Ali was, reportedly, expecting a “brief stay” when news broke he had been hospitalized in Phoenix Thursday, June 02, 2016 with respiratory condition. But reports began circulating late Friday night that his condition had become “grave.” His condition did not improve, and late on June 3, it was announced that Ali had died at the age of 74. May he rest in peace!
The world was saddened by Ali’s demise and deemed him a prominent personality.  Although Ali has passed away, his soul will remain eternal and he will remain hero for ever and for present and future generations. It is hoped that all athletes must learn from his morality and cherish manly characters inside and outside rings. It should be noted that man needs to nourish not only his body but also his soul, namely personality and human characteristics. At the end, I express my deep condolence, over his sad demise, to his family and his fans.

Hujjattullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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