You know you
are getting old when the “heroes” that you grew up with start to pass away.
Muhammad Ali’s death is perhaps the one that has upset me most. He was an utter
shining star in the Hemingway household.
He was fighter in more ways than one, to me he was a freedom fighter who
put his career on the line by campaigning with Martin Luther King and a man
that many Americans wanted to see dead, Malcolm X. In order to bring attention
to the injustice that was thrown at Black Americans he changed his name,
changed religion, refused to fight in Vietnam. This quote from him was so
“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? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”
He must have known that this would end his career (as it did for 3 years) and he must have had an inkling that they would strip him of his world title.
I am so lucky to have been a young lad when he was on our TV screens every few days and to be able to witness that incredibly witty, stylish, graceful, beautiful and an utterly brilliant sportsman, nay gentleman.