WASHINGTON, June 11 (APP): A week after his death that sent shockwave among his admirers across the globe, boxing legend Muhammad Ali continues to dominate the American media, paying tributes to his contribution to the sports and for his support to the humanitarian cause.
Muhammad Ali was not our nation’s first famous Muslim, but he was the first and last cultural icon to make Americans comfortable with the idea that they could be Muslim without sacrificing the very ideals that make them so quintessentially American, says a commentary on the iconic boxer who wrote a new history in field of boxing.
His death and the coverage, a report said matched that of a state head, diluted a wave of anti-Muslim sentiments spurred during the Republican presidential campaign when some of the party candidates, including Donald Trump who is now the presumptive nominee and the only candidate from his party. Trump had suggested that all Muslims should be banned from entry the country.
However, the honor bestowed upon Ali reminded many Americans about the contribution of Muslims, who are not just migrant but associated with the US for more than a century.
Success in the ring made him famous, but it was his personality open-hearted, defiant, reckless, fallible that made him the first Muslim that Americans felt they knew, the commentary said.
There were a few reference points for the Muslim faith or its flowed when the then heavyweight Champion, known as Cassius Clay, converted to Islam in early 1960s.
When Ali, who had come close to Malcom X, an American Muslim minister and a human right activist, announced he was converting to Islam, his promoters threatened to cancel boxing matches and the media refused to call him by his Muslim name. But as in the ring, Ali emerged victorious.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a basketball legend, was the second biggest name to convert to Islam in 1971 when he was on his top of his fame. But, with Ali’s support, the great basket player faced less resistance among his followers and community.
Throughout his life, Ali who had converted to Sunni Muslim, continued to promote the cause of Muslims, fighting off the tide of Islamophobia that had risen after the 9/11 attacks.
I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours, Ali said.
Recently, when some presidential candidates fired salvos at Muslims after the terrorist attacks in Paris and the North Californian state of San Bernardino, Ali issued a statement titled, Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States rebuking statement from Trump.
Our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam, Ali wrote, clarifying that misguided murderers tarnished peoples image about Islam.