Muhammad Ali might be old and infirm, but when the Greatest of All-Time gets punched, you can bet your ass he's going to punch back.
On Wednesday night Ali did just that in a statement addressed to, "Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States." Clearly this note was meant for Donald Trump, who's not only made such a proposal but also suggested that there are no Muslim sports heroes, as President Obama suggested in his address to the nation on Sunday night.
Ali is both a Muslim and a sports hero, but it's his religion, not his former occupation, that he felt compelled to address in the statement. “We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda,” Ali said. “They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody."
"Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people's views on what Islam really is."
Born a Christian, Ali became a member of the Nation of Islam in the 60s and converted to Sunni Islam in 1975. He cited his religion and his opposition to the Vietnam War in 1967 when he refused to be inducted in the U.S. Army. Later, Ali became a prominent figure in the national anti-war movement in subsequent years.
The great irony of Trump mocking the idea of Muslim athletes is that he and Ali have met on several occasions. Trump is also obviously aware of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's existence.
At post time, the Republican candidate hadn't not responded to Ali's statement.
Photos by AP