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  Debate

Debate

Was the WBA's treatment of Muhammad Ali the biggest injustice in boxing history?

The summer of 1967 was a tough period for Americans as almost 100 American soldiers were losing their lives every day in the Vietnam War. People were supporting the anti-war policies. In the midst of all of this turmoil, the WBA revoked Muhammad Ali of his heavyweight belt because he had declined to sign up in the army for the Vietnam War. His eldest daughter Maryum Ali recently shared a not so popular clip of her father, which shows how her father was battling the system to preserve his beliefs. 

Ali had become much bigger than just an athlete at the time. He had become a symbol of justice and a light of hope to challenge oppression. Maryum, who is a social activist often shares quotes or photos of her father on social media. She shared a short clip from the 4-part PBS documentary series by Ken Burns and Sarah Burns on her Instagram. The video shows the boxing legend being asked by a reporter, “Were you persecuted for some reason?” 

Ali, who was in a war with the system for justice replied, “If I’m condemned for being a Muslim, you can da*n it be because you hate to see a black man standing on his own two feet. You are telling the black world that you never want to see a black man independent and this is all you are doing, and this only makes me bigger.” 

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Poll of the day

Do you think the WBA's treatment of Muhammad Ali was justified?

Absolutely not

Yes, it was fair

I'm not sure

It was complicated

Maryum’s caption for the post read that “the World Boxing Association unfairly stripped him of his championship title because they felt he was now “unbecoming of a champion.” In 1964, Cassius Clay adopted Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. This had already sparked discussion both inside and outside of America. Following that, his war against the system made him an even bigger name globally.   

‘The Greatest’ was convicted of five years in prison for draft invasion, and was asked to pay a penalty of $10,000. To add insult to injury, he was banned from boxing for three years. He then returned to the ring in October 1970 and squared off against Jerry Quarry. Ali was declared the winner by a corner stoppage. 

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When Muhammad Ali stood his ground

The US government was trying to spread awareness among the people to fight for the country in the Vietnam War. A well-known figure like Ali could have influenced many more individuals to enlist in the army had he enlisted. However, his refusal to fight in the war started an anti-war campaign instead. But why did he refuse? 

via Imago

‘The Louisville Lip’ believed that he wouldn’t go to a poor country and shoot men of color for a privileged nation like America. He stated, “My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor, hungry people in the mud for big, powerful America.” 

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There were only two options in front of him: join the army or go to jail. However, he made the decision to follow the road of justice instead, and he waited till it was served. He was convinced that if he answered the call to serve in the military, he would not be loyal to his religion. Meanwhile, what do you think about Maryum’s post? Share your thoughts about it in the comments below.