The death of Muhammad Ali yesterday at the age of 74 leaves a void not only in the world of sports but in the world of humanity. In episode 45 of the Sports Microscope podcast, Gene Gumbs talks a little about what Ali meant to him.
Not only was Muhammad Ali arguably the greatest boxer of all-time, he also transcended sports in a way that very few ever have. He was vilified by many for his stand on the draft and Vietnam War. He paid for that, both in a fine and by having his right to earn a living taken away. Others praised him for his stance and standing firm to his beliefs.
It’s ironic that shortly after he made the decision to refuse to be drafted that public sentiment against the war turned, to the point that by 1971 the Supreme Court unanimously overturned his conviction.
Ali’s popularity around the world is hard to quantify. The only parallel I can draw is that he was to the world what Babe Ruth was in America in the 1930s – almost universally loved. What makes Muhammad Ali even more amazing is that his popularity never declined, not even after he retired and Parkinson’s took away his ability to talk.
I will never forget the sight of him holding the torch at the opening ceremonies at the Olympics. It was both awe-inspiring and sad at the same time. It was sad to see how the disease had destroyed this once powerful man, but it was incredible just the same to hear the love pour out around him for this beloved figure.
Ali gave away a fortune to charities over the years. He was a man of principle and someone who loved his fellow man. He especially loved helping underprivileged and sick children.
I often wonder what he would say about how radical elements have perverted Islam. Could he have been a voice that would have given real Muslims the courage to stand up to those that would create violence in their name? Sadly, we’ll never know.
Also in this Episode:
- Marlon Byrd continues to show how dumb some baseball players are
- Is David Wright‘s career over?
- Where can the Red Sox find pitching help?
- Ben Zobrist might be the best free agent signing of 2016.
- My pick for team of the week
I thank you for listening! If you have any questions or suggestions for a future episode, leave me a note here or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.