The Greatest Is Gone

 

Via the WSJ:

Muhammad Ali, one of the most influential athletes in American history and a three-time heavyweight champion who fought as well with his mouth and mind, has died. He was 74 years old. Ali called himself “The Greatest,” and many agreed. Among boxers, he certainly ranked among the elite, having won the heavyweight title three times in his 21-year career. But it was his life outside the ring that inspired the strongest adjectives. He was the prettiest, the brashest, the baddest, the fastest, the loudest, the rashest. He openly attacked American racism at a time when the nation’s black athletes and celebrities were expected to acquiesce, to thank the white power structure that gave them the opportunity to earn wealth and celebrity, and to otherwise keep their mouths shut. Ali’s mouth was seldom shut. He joined the Nation of Islam at a time when the FBI and many journalists labeled the Muslim group a dangerous cult bent on destroying America. He challenged the legitimacy of the Vietnam War and refused to enlist in the military at a time when few prominent Americans were protesting, an act of civil disobedience that led to his suspension from boxing for more than three years.

There are 75 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    2016 is just the worst.

    • #1
  2. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Skillz baby.  A man who lived a man’s life his own way at a tough time for Black athletes.   Kudos to his courage. RIP

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uSFQrPzSAnE

    • #2
  3. OldDan Rhody Inactive
    OldDan Rhody
    @OldDanRhody

    Ricochet Editor's Desk:
    Ali called himself “The Greatest,” and many agreed.

    Yes.

    • #3
  4. Flossy Inactive
    Flossy
    @Flossy

    We’re losing all of our Cold War Greats.

    Godspeed, Ali.

    • #4
  5. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Named for an abolitionist and for his own father, Cassius Marcellus Clay jr. referred to this as his “slave name”, converted to the religion of slavery and adopted the name of the pedophile prophet.

    Good Riddance. I’m not cheering his death, just his departure.  It’s like closing time — you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

    • #5
  6. Mark Wilson Member
    Mark Wilson
    @MarkWilson

    William F. Buckley, Jr. interviewed Ali on Firing Line.  He was simultaneously arrogant and humble, conciliatory and combative, virulently racist but cheerful toward his white host, and charming toward the audience.  In the interview he speaks in very complex sentences and extended paragraphs, but openly admits that he was poorly educated and unashamedly asks for explanation of words and phrases beyond his vocabulary.  Quite a fascinating figure.

    I think it’s remarkable the number of times he responds to a challenge from Buckley or the audience with, “I see what you’re saying” or “You could look at it that way”, before explaining politely why he disagrees.  Even when his beliefs are bizarre or offensive, or his reasoning doesn’t make sense, his conduct is still a model that I wish more public figures would follow.

    • #6
  7. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Rest in peace, Champ.

    • #7
  8. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    This is the same guy that was born during WW2 converted to Sunni Islam the same sect as ISIS? He was convicted of draft evasion for refusing to fight for the nation yet he gladly fought to enrich himself.

    We started the week with a humbling story about MM2 Ashley for Memorial Day then we were faced with the tragic loss of a Naval Aviator and ultimately nine (9) U.S. Army Soldiers.

    We end the week with a post calling a draft dodging entertainer who practiced what is now a terrorist political ideology ‘The Greatest’.

    • #8
  9. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Ball Diamond Ball:Named for an abolitionist and for his own father, Cassius Marcellus Clay jr. referred to this as his “slave name”, converted to the religion of slavery and adopted the name of the pedophile prophet.

    Good Riddance. I’m not cheering his death, just his departure. It’s like closing time — you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

    And he gets the same treatment on Ricochet as real heroes properly memorialized earlier this week.

    • #9
  10. Mark Wilson Member
    Mark Wilson
    @MarkWilson

    Ricochet Editor's Desk: He openly attacked American racism at a time when the nation’s black athletes and celebrities were expected to acquiesce, to thank the white power structure

    It’s interesting that the WSJ adopts the tendentious language and ideas of Ali’s political movement in what is supposedly a straight news story.

    Ricochet Editor's Desk: He challenged the legitimacy of the Vietnam War and refused to enlist in the military at a time when few prominent Americans were protesting, an act of civil disobedience

    Again that’s pretty generous for a news story.

    • #10
  11. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    People are complicated. Someone can be both the hero and the villain. Washington and Jefferson helped to found the Republic and both owned slaves.

    It is impossible to judge the character of any person without looking at the whole picture. He is a mixed bag, just like everyone else.

    He was a hero to many for reasons that worked for them. We need heroes.

    • #11
  12. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    Ball Diamond Ball:Named for an abolitionist and for his own father, Cassius Marcellus Clay jr. referred to this as his “slave name”, converted to the religion of slavery and adopted the name of the pedophile prophet.

    Good Riddance. I’m not cheering his death, just his departure. It’s like closing time — you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

    I am not agreeing or disagreeing with this but I love and respect (most) contrarian opinions. We should always have them.

    • #12
  13. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    I loved him. He was an individual. Not afraid to stand up for what he believed was right. He put himself out there. He didn’t hide in the group. He didn’t filter himself to protect endorsements. He was himself and he did his best.

    Plus he had the best anti-tooth decay record I ever owned.

    • #13
  14. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    An early version of Donald Trump, but with more athletic ability and bigger hands.

    • #14
  15. a Gifted Righter Member
    a Gifted Righter
    @

    Here’s how I look at it, if I grew up in that time, in his community and found myself surrounded by people as misinformed and manipulated as the ones that were around and influencing him (not to talk of the general nature of race relations and how impossible it would be for him to not be influenced by that as well) I would share most of his ideological shortcomings (and none of his talent or heart).

    Just think about it, he was surrounded by charlatans on a consistent basis and was brainwashed to see them as people of authority.

    Putting yourself in another man’s shoes is quite difficult especially when he says and does things that are objectionable to you but it’s the only way to perform an honest assessment of his character.

    The guy was a [expletive] champ.

    • #15
  16. Tim Williams Inactive
    Tim Williams
    @TimWilliams

    “This is the same guy that was born during WW2 converted to Sunni Islam the same sect as ISIS? He was convicted of draft evasion for refusing to fight for the nation yet he gladly fought to enrich himself.

    We started the week with a humbling story about MM2 Ashley for Memorial Day then we were faced with the tragic loss of a Naval Aviator and ultimately nine (9) U.S. Army Soldiers.”

    Guilt by association is a tough game. What about Ronald Reagan launching his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, famous for the murder of 3 civil rights workers, with a call for States’ Rights, paying tribute to an ideology that killed many young US soldiers and one of our finest presidents? By your logic, does that not make him a traitor?

    If you go to YouTube and look at the video “NBC News Muhammad Ali on not going to war” or other interviews from the period, he explains some of the crucial differences between fighting in a modern war and the sport of boxing. He was willing to go to jail for his stance, so I don’t think he can fairly or reasonably be called a draft dodger.

    • #16
  17. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Tim Williams:“This is the same guy that was born during WW2 converted to Sunni Islam the same sect as ISIS? He was convicted of draft evasion for refusing to fight for the nation yet he gladly fought to enrich himself.

    We started the week with a humbling story about MM2 Ashley for Memorial Day then we were faced with the tragic loss of a Naval Aviator and ultimately nine (9) U.S. Army Soldiers.”

    Guilt by association is a tough game. What about Ronald Reagan launching his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, famous for the murder of 3 civil rights workers, with a cal for States’ Rights, paying tribute to an ideology that killed many young US soldiers and one of our finest presidents? By your logic, does that not make him a traitor?

    If you go to YouTube and look at the video “NBC News Muhammad Ali on not going to war” or other interviews from the period, he explains some of the crucial differences between fighting in a modern war and the sport of boxing. He was willing to go to jail for his stance, so I don’t think he can fairly or reasonably be called a draft dodger.

    There are 58,000+ names of men and women inscribed on a wall that died so he could sit comfortably in jail and later get rich while risking nothing.

    It isn’t reasonable to call him a draft dodger, but the CoC prevents an accurate portrayal.

    Good riddance.

    • #17
  18. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    a Gifted Righter:Here’s how I look at it, if I grew up in that time, in his community and found myself surrounded by people as misinformed and manipulated as the ones that were around and influencing him (not to talk of the general nature of race relations and how impossible it would be for him to not be influenced by that as well) I would share most of his ideological shortcomings (and none of his talent or heart).

    Just think about it, he was surrounded by charlatans on a consistent basis and was brainwashed to see them as people of authority.

    Putting yourself in another man’s shoes is quite difficult especially when he says and does things that are objectionable to you but it’s the only way to perform an honest assessment of his character.

    The guy was a fkin champ.

    You should write this to the POW’s that endured years being tortured in a prison. I think they were surrounded by much worse than Clay and still returned with dignity.

    Get their take on it.

    • #18
  19. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    Boxing certainly had a different place in popular culture in the 20th century. Virtually everyone knew who the Heavyweight Champion of the World was at any given time. Ali was at the center of media and conversation in his day as Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis had been before him. The last boxer to touch on that kind of fame was Mike Tyson (who did his part to damage the popularity of the sport). What percentage of the population has any idea of who is the current heavy wieght champ? I sure don’t know and I’m not going to bother to Google it.

    • #19
  20. a Gifted Righter Member
    a Gifted Righter
    @

    BrentB67:

    a Gifted Righter:Here’s how I look at it, if I grew up in that time, in his community and found myself surrounded by people as misinformed and manipulated as the ones that were around and influencing him (not to talk of the general nature of race relations and how impossible it would be for him to not be influenced by that as well) I would share most of his ideological shortcomings (and none of his talent or heart).

    You should write this to the POW’s that endured years being tortured in a prison. I think they were surrounded by much worse than Clay and still returned with dignity.

    Get their take on it.

    Explain to me what you mean.

    Am I dishonoring war veterans (my family contains many) by claiming Ali wasn’t a PoS?

    His dodging the draft sucked, no one is arguing that.

    Why do you feel dodging is reprehensible?

    Here are my two basic reasons.

    It’s cowardly and unpatriotic.

    Was he a coward? No.

    Was he unpatriotic? Certainly. Why?

    Because he was a bad, apathetic individual without compassion? No, IMO it was because he was fed a lifelong diet of victim mentality courtesy of countless individuals, most of whose names we will never know.

    I humbly ask you, do you know what that is like?

    Or do you think it something that is of little consequence and is of negligible effect?

    • #20
  21. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    a Gifted Righter:

    BrentB67:

    a Gifted Righter:…

    You should write this to the POW’s that endured years being tortured in a prison. I think they were surrounded by much worse than Clay and still returned with dignity.

    Get their take on it.

    Explain to me what you mean.

    Am I dishonoring war veterans (my family contains many) by claiming Ali wasn’t a PoS?

    His dodging the draft sucked, no one is arguing that.

    Why do you feel dodging is reprehensible?

    Here are my two basic reasons.

    It’s cowardly and unpatriotic.

    Was he a coward? No.

    Was he unpatriotic? Certainly. Why?

    Because he was a bad, apathetic individual without compassion? No, IMO it was because he was fed a lifelong diet of victim mentality courtesy of countless individuals, most of whose names we will never know.

    I humbly ask you, do you know what that is like?

    Or do you think it something that is of little consequence and is of negligible effect?

    Good points all.

    I do not accept that all of our bad choices are solely from our external influences. At some point we have to grow up and be accountable for our decisions.

    My disagreements here are less about how he chose to live his life and more to highlight the contrast with those that choose to favorably memorialize him.

    That we lionize someone who refused to fight for his country, but gladly collected millions from the free market people have died for is pitiful.

    • #21
  22. a Gifted Righter Member
    a Gifted Righter
    @

    I understand and can relate.

    Victim mentality is a bitch and the trends, behaviors and necessities that are created by remaining in her snare are severely underestimated and haven’t even begun to be discussed at the requisite level in general society………..for obvious reasons.

    • #22
  23. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Ali was terribly overrated as a fighter.

    Despite fighting in the 15 round era he had a relatively low KO ratio.

    He had some very controversial KO wins such as Liston II, Frazier II, and Foreman.

    He had some very controversial decisions such as Norton II/III.

    How many other heavyweight champs have been on the winning side of so many controversies?

    • #23
  24. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    • #24
  25. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    So I’ll play a racial devils advocate for Ali.  If I entered a ( not my skin color) power structure as an athletic commodity and was treated poorly or inferiorly by the power structure because of my skin color I’d go a bit bonkers too.   I’d be no Jackie Robimson ( who hangs on the wall in my office…eternally stealing home )

    As far as draft dodging , I couldn’t do that in a million years because I can’t understand it , but he wasn’t alone and did pay a  certain price for it.    Hes no Jane Fonda, she can rot, but his choice was poor and I don’t  respect it anymore than rich kids hiding out in college or with parental connections.

    Regarding Islam . it was trendy then for some Blacks and all they had to think was Not White and it was a middle finger.  The fact that anyone who reads about Islam should be so appalled ( and smart enough ) as to not want it metastasizing in their country is another topic. One that might be quite relevant soon.

    As far as the Rico front page , it’s looked a lot like NR recently and even worse with the pro Clinton foreign policy speech articles vomited forth as coherent thought.  That worries me more than saying goodbye to a controversial icon we watched fight growing up.

    Ok my warrior friends, you won’t hurt me by eviscerating my arguments.

    • #25
  26. Stephen Dawson Inactive
    Stephen Dawson
    @StephenDawson

    Ali was ‘interviewed’ by Norman Gunston — an Australian Ali G-like fictional celebrity — in the early 1970s. Enjoy this short snippet of it:

    • #26
  27. Big Green Inactive
    Big Green
    @BigGreen

    Ball Diamond Ball:Named for an abolitionist and for his own father, Cassius Marcellus Clay jr. referred to this as his “slave name”, converted to the religion of slavery and adopted the name of the pedophile prophet.

    Good Riddance. I’m not cheering his death, just his departure. It’s like closing time — you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

    That is perhaps one way to look at it…certainly is the most negative way possible, or close to it.  He also grew up in a southern border state in the 1950s as a black man.  Perhaps that influenced his view (and likely, at least in part, by a lot of the charlatans surrounding him) about fighting for his “country”.  Irrespective of right or wrong, I am guessing that if you grew up in that time and place in his circumstances, there is 0% chance you would be writing these words. Amazing to me that a person as intelligent as you seem incapable of contextualizing at all here.

    • #27
  28. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    frazier-ali

    One of my favorite shots of Ali in the ring.

    As a kid, I was never a fan but he brought a lot of interest to the sport (even if you just watched to see someone shut his mouth for him). He had a great chin which ultimately led to him taking way too any punches. Not sure when Parkinson’s set in, but the once fast talker certainly seemed punch drunk long before he retired.

    • #28
  29. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    a Gifted Righter:Explain to me what you mean.

    Am I dishonoring war veterans (my family contains many) by claiming Ali wasn’t a PoS?

    His dodging the draft sucked, no one is arguing that.

    Why do you feel dodging is reprehensible?

    Here are my two basic reasons.

    It’s cowardly and unpatriotic.

    Was he a coward? No.

    Was he unpatriotic? Certainly. Why?

    Because he was a bad, apathetic individual without compassion? No, IMO it was because he was fed a lifelong diet of victim mentality courtesy of countless individuals, most of whose names we will never know.

    I humbly ask you, do you know what that is like?

    Or do you think it something that is of little consequence and is of negligible effect?

    Lots of people get fed a lifelong diet of all sorts of junk.  Judge them on their merits.  Look at those who shared Clay’s likely experiences and (for example) answered the call.  Poverty don’t cause crime; institutional racism don’t cause draft-dodging.

    I’m not saying he never had to worry about anything, and nobody can take away the magnificent feats of athletic combat he accomplished.

    But I don’t like him or his religion of conquest and slavery.  I don’t have to.  God Bless America.

    • #29
  30. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Big Green: Amazing to me that a person as intelligent as you seem incapable of contextualizing at all here.

    I got your context, right here, Pal.  I didnt take him to task for his draft-dodging.  I didn;t even point out that the reason no VC ever called him the N-word, is that none of them ever saw him.  Does did he think that Vietnam or any other place in the world was some sort of race-free utopia?

    Did those mean black men in the ring call him names?  Well then why did he punch them?  Other people who went for the draft (or volunteered!) were not personally offended by the Viet Cong.  They felt a commitment (or at least a decent respect for society and its laws) to something larger.

    I am not making light of the difficulties that he or any other similarly-situated person faced.  But it’s hardly dispositive, and I don’t accept a deterministic causal relationship, because clearly, none exists.

    Context is not enough.  Let him own his decisions.  In the end, it’s all we have.

    • #30

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.