There aren’t many people I want to see dead. It’s a sad thing to see just about anyone pass away, including Ali. I understand my opinion probably infuriates many, but the First Amendment is suppose to defend unpopular opinions, right?
Anyhow, now that I have that particular qualifier out of the way, I certainly don’t want to see someone portrayed as a hero when the same someone clearly wasn’t. That’s right, I said it. Muhammad Ali was no hero, and I’m not the only one who feels that way.
I believe that Muhammad Ali was in life a hypocrite, a coward, an ingrate, and a buffoon. Gosh, why do I have the funny feeling that whoever is reading this either loves me or hates me?
But I digress. Keep in mind that this is the same individual who threw his 1960 Rome Olympics Gold Medal into the Ohio River in a fit of childish rage. But fret not, he was re-issued another brand spanking new one at the 1996 Atlanta Olympiad. How nice.
The same individual born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. turned his back on his county when he dodged the draft in ’67. Or as Ali flexed his brain muscle at the time, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.”
Oddly enough, hundreds of thousands of other young American males answered their nation’s call when it came time to perform their patriotic chore. Ali could have petitioned for a Conscientious Objector status or even possibly joined the Reserves.
Here’s a crazy idea… how about serving like all those hundreds of others did at the time? But not Muhammad Ali. I guess Captain Ted Williams (USMC fighter pilot/Boston Red Sox/Washington Senators), Spec 4 Rocky Bleier (US Army infantry/Pittsburgh Steelers), Tech Sergeant Joe Louis (US Army Cavalry/Heavyweight Champion of the World), and Lt. Colonel Jerry Coleman (USMC fighter pilot/New York Yankees/San Diego Padres) were the real chumps, huh?
By the way, upon his death Ali’s personal fortune was estimated at between $50 million to $80 million. Yes, evil America had oppressed and treated so badly poor Muhammad. Even in 1967 when he turned his back on his nation, Ali was quite the wealthy young man.
I can’t help but wonder how many Vietnam Vets spent their final moments on this Earth attempting in vain to stay warm over a steam exhaust grate in the middle of a New York City winter. You can bet Ali’s declining years were nothing like that.
Yet another famous statement that many considered divisive and a swipe at his country, Ali once famously quipped, “Cassius Clay is my slave name.” Ali was born in 1942, not 1842. Perhaps his ability to read a calendar was in direct parallel to his grammatical prowess.
After all, not many slaves were ever millionaires. Maybe he was just pitching another fit, temper tantrum, whatever.
Even if I put aside his ingratitude and hypocrisy, here’s a modern condition I’ll lay directly at his feet – Ali was the catalyst for sucking almost all of the class out of professional sports. While I’m at it, let’s be honest and admit he’s the godfather every self-aggrandizing baseball player who’s ever hit a homer, and instead of showing some class and just running the bases, instead decided to stand there and admire the tater soar out of the park. That’s the Ali Effect.
Whatever happened to just downing the football in the end zone? Nah… instead we now see routines that would make the Soul Train Dancers and the entire ensemble of the Bolshoi blush with envy. That’s the Ali Effect.
Certainly understandable when a pugilist wins that he’s exuberant when celebrating, but when did conducting yourself like one of those painted frauds from professional wrasslin’ become acceptable? Since Ali, that’s when.
Actions speak louder than words. Screaming your “The Greatest” doesn’t make you so. Conducting yourself as a champion is what makes one the greatest.
Most of us have had a parent or coach tell us that when we triumph during a sporting event, “act like you’ve been there before.” That’s a phrase that really, really needs a comeback.