Ali's greatest fights were outside the ring
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The world now mourns the passing of Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer ever to step in a ring.
He was brash, a man with great wit and playful at times. His dazzling boxing skills, immense confidence and natural gift of gab mesmerised the world. Many fine boxers of the past never received the admiration and love bestowed on Ali. Most of them are no longer remembered.
Ali was more than just a great boxer and renowned heavyweight champion. He grew up in an era when black people in America were still fighting for civil and human rights. They were denied the right to vote in several Southern states. They were denied the use of public facilities and abused by an unfair justice system.
Although Ali's boxing glory brought him money and fame, he was more than just a great boxer. He was a proud black man, unwilling to accept the inhuman treatment meted out to his people.
With the tutelage he received from the renowned Malcom X, he came to the conclusion that he would not accept the hypocrisy of white Christian America. He cemented his conviction by becoming a member of the Nation of Islam. He refused to accept second-class status. He publicly denounced the racist chains that still denied black Americans true freedom. He bravely condemned the unjust Vietnam War and refused to join the army, as he proclaimed that no Vietnamese ever called him "nigger".
Ali's championship belt was immediately taken from him and he was banned from pursuing his career. He was willing to accept the loss of his income and the disdain of racist white America. His legacy will live forever in the annals of history, not because he was a superb boxer, but because he was a magnificent human being and one of the great fighters for justice and black dignity.
R. OSCAR LOFTERS