Muhammad Ali is regarded by many as one of the greatest boxers of all time, if not the greatest, however, he is also known and has received fame and iconic status for his so-called “acts of bravery” by standing up against America and refusing conscription into the military draft during the Vietnam War.
Some people consider Muhammad Ali to be an icon because he took a stance and objected to American involvement in the Vietnam War. He was seen by many as a great figure of the counterculture generation.
There are others that would not consider Muhammad Ali’s actions as “brave.” Numerous athletes that had promising careers ahead of them, such as Ted Williams, Joe Dimaggio, Warren Spahn, Joe Louis, Bob Feller and Pat Tillman and many others chose to fight for their country and serve for the freedom of the American people and freedom of others around the world. These men were the real heroes that unselfishly served their country, as opposed to Ali who claimed he didn’t want to fight because he opposed the war.
This raises the question as to why Ali is considered an icon and a hero if those that were considered heroes in the past were the ones that temporarily gave up their dreams of playing professional sports and fought for their country, unlike Ali.
When professional baseball player and hall of famer Bob Feller was asked why he joined the Navy and fought in World War II, he said, “I didn’t worry about losing my baseball career. We needed to win the war and I wanted to do my part.”
Ali was seemingly a hypocrite. Shortly after beating Sunny Liston and winning the World Heavyweight Championship, Ali converted to Islam and changed his “slave” name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali.
“War is against the teachings of the Qur’an. I’m not trying to dodge the draft. We are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger. We don’t take part in Christian wars or wars of any unbelievers,” Ali said.
Ali said he was a conscientious objector to war. However, he was not an objector of war. Instead, he was an objector of American wars and would only take part in wars declared by Allah or the Messenger. “White slave masters” were his real enemies he said. It was a white southern police officer that taught Ali to box and it was white people in the crowds at his professional boxing matches that provided him with millions of dollars.
Joe Louis, a former African American professional boxing champion donated a great deal of his winnings from fights to military relief funds. He fought at charity events to boost morale and even encouraged other African American men to join the armed services.
Muhammad Ali stuck to his guns by objecting the war on grounds that his conscience would not let him. The fighter refused to fight.
He stood idly by as other fellow Americans died, basic human rights were denied to people and millions were slaughtered by Communists.