What If Muhammad Ali Ran for President?

As I listen to journalists and sports-talk radio hosts talk about the greatest fighter of all time, I keep thinking I understand the appeal of Donald Trump.

Just look at some of these juicy quotes:

Clay was 18: bounding, fearless, leading with his mouth.

“I’m not only a fighter. I’m a poet; I’m a prophet; I’m the resurrector; I’m the savior of the boxing world. If it wasn’t for me, the game would be dead,” he said.

Young Clay made boxing an art form. He was an original, a heavyweight who didn’t move around the ring — he danced. He’d thrill the crowd with his quick scissor-step shuffle. On defense, he’d slip and slide, Dundee said, and then flick that jab.

“He had a jab that was like a snake,” he said.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee; rumble, young man, rumble. Boxing reporters never had so much fun.

So Ali, though seemingly a good guy on numerous fronts, was a tad egotistical. Did that cost him with the media?

And then he could be pretty divisive:

After the Liston fight, Ali revealed he was a member of the black separatist movement Nation of Islam. He wanted to be called Muhammad Ali, a name he said was given to him by the group’s leader, Elijah Muhammad.

“That’s my original name; that’s a black man name,” Ali said. “Cassius Clay was my slave name. I’m no longer a slave.”

Muhammad, the Nation of Islam leader, preached that integration and intermarriage were wrong and that white people were devils. It was an idea Ali defended in a 1971 TV interview.

“I’m gonna look at two or three white people who’re trying to do right and don’t see the other million trying to kill me? I’m not that big of a fool, and I’m not going to deny it,” he said. “I believe everything he [Muhammad] teach, and if the white people of a country are not the devil, then they should prove they’re not the devil.”

Ali became a polarizing figure in America.

Again, did that cost Ali his reputation?

So I wander as I wonder.

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9 thoughts on “What If Muhammad Ali Ran for President?

  1. “I know some who are constantly drunk on books as other men are drunk on whiskey.”
    ― H.L. Mencken

    “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”
    ― H.L. Mencken, Prejudices: First Series

    “The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable…”
    ― H.L. Mencken, Prejudices: Third Series

    Muhammad Ali—Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”

    “Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. No Viet Cong ever called me nigger.”

    “I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over.”

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  2. I watched Full Metal Jacket last night for the first time. What a coincidence.

    Pogue Colonel: You write “Born to Kill” on your helmet and you wear a peace button. What’s that supposed to be, some kind of sick joke?

    Private Joker: I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir.

    Pogue Colonel: Son, all I’ve ever asked of my marines is that they obey my orders as they would the word of God. We are here to help the Vietnamese, because inside every gook there is an American trying to get out. It’s a hardball world, son. We’ve gotta keep our heads until this peace craze blows over.

    Other better scenes too like that one about Christmas.

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  3. I have been wondering the same thing for the past 10 years. He had all the qualities of a great politician and nothing disqualified him. The New York Times columnist William Rhoden wrote, “Ali’s actions changed my standard of what constituted an athlete’s greatness. Possessing a killer jump shot or the ability to stop on a dime was no longer enough. What were you doing for the liberation of your people? What were you doing to help your country live up to the covenant of its founding principles?”. America loves brave heroes.

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  4. Don’t forget Cassius Clay’s “rope a dope” move where he would let the opponent back him against the ropes, holding his gloves against his face so they couldn’t score any points, and let them wear themselves out trying to punch him. That’s chicken manure boxing athletics at its worst, yet Mr. Soon-to-be-muslim capitalized on it with his big mouth and gained a wide following. Go figure.

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  5. George

    “Rope a Dope”

    Obviously, you didn’t watch the fights or your memory is failing. ” float like a buttery and sting like a Bee” was his style of boxing until later in his career when he had to fight Joe Frazier after in the Thrilla from Manila after he was banned from boxing in the US for 3-4 years. His rope a dope strategy emerged in that fight and was used effectively against George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle where Ali knocked out a much younger and stronger opponent. Rope -A-Dope was a strategy of a smart fighter who no longer had the athletic skills he once had. I watched all the fights cause I was a dumb kid and didn’t know any better. I abhor boxing, (see WSC #68)

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  6. Curt, “view of white people” It was no where near a heinous as white America’s view of black people at the time. In fact, Ali demonstrated himself to be far more honorable.

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