Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer of all time, turns 65 today. Muhammad showed courage in refusing induction into the Army in 1967. What can this civil disobedience teach us today?
For all you Kossacks over 40 there is an all day marathon on his life on ESPN Classic. Other than being a great entertainer and athlete, what can we learn from him? For those of you that remember, Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali was not always the beloved figure he is today. He was affiliated with Elijah Muhammad and the Black Muslims since 1964. Even today, Muhammad will admit that he said things he shouldn't have said. He is not affiliated any longer with the Black Muslims, though he is still a practicing Muslim. In 1967 he was villified by most people for refusing induction into the service. He was called a traitor/coward by many.
Muhammad, had he accepted being inducted, would never have faced combat. Like Joe Lewis of an earlier generation, he likely would have done USO shows and never been in harms way. Muhammad believed that the Vietnam was was wrong and against his religion. Therefore, he lost his heavyweight title and 3 1/2 years of his prime because he stood up for his principles. He eventually came back through perserverance and regained (twice) the heavyweight title and is known by most boxing historians as the greatest heavyweight of all time (sorry Joe Lewis, Rocky Marciano).
Now, despite his unfortunate physical condition, he is beloved and admired by friend and former foe alike. We need to take his example and continue to oppose this insane war in Iraq. Muhammad showed us that the future will always vindicate those who stand up for their beliefs.