Cassius Clay, better known as Muhammad Ali, was more than a champion. He was a soldier. He was a black soldier. And he was damn proud of it right up until the very end.
Ali was known for being a talented boxer who won over 50 fights, losing just five. He was also known for his sheer confidence, upfront personality and uncensored honestly.
At least this is how some in the liberal mainstream would most likely paint him, omitting the parts that acknowledge his activism. His defiance against racism. And his challenge against the U.S. government risking his boxing career with no fucks given.
Still, a quiet Ali is a “good” Ali to white people.
We need to tell it like it is. Muhammad Ali was unapologetically black and proud. And that scared and angered many whites during the height of his popularity and triumphs. Back then, just as it has today as evidenced in the backlash to Beyonce’s Super Bowl 50’s halftime performance of the song Formation, black pride was ironically deemed racist by white folks.
But Ali’s bravado made some of them loathe him for being cocky and arrogant in their eyes. And he didn’t give a damn!
Sadly, Ali’s life would take a nosedive during his later years when he became ill suffering from Parkinson’s disease. In time, the disease would render him incapable of functioning like a regular human being.
Yet, he refused to let it defeat him. His fighting spirit was still going.
We also need to face that if Muhammad Ali was in his prime during modern times, he would be hated and feared to death by a lot of angry, fear-based white folks. He was a self-loving, outspoken, anti-racist, pro-black black man who was a Muslim that didn’t care what white people thought about him. And nothing pisses off white people like a black person who loves him/herself and his/her people and is verbally and actively against racism, because to some that in itself is racist. (I’m looking at you, Piers Morgan!)
In the end, let’s not allow history to whitewash who Muhammad Ali was. Let’s not allow them to censor the important facts about who this man was. Most importantly, let’s make sure that his fighting spirit lives on.
Rest in power, brotha. Rest in power.