I don’t love everything about Mohamed Ali. I don’t like everything about anybody. But he was a good man fundamentally, though confused about some things. He taught everyone that while being a jerk for entertainment may have been distasteful and annoying, being a decent human being where it counts is what really matters.
He was a fighter for entertainment. Fighting with people who agreed to fight him back. A boxer in words and fists. And he stood up against the US Government and he would not let them take him to Vietnam to go kill a bunch of Asians and burn their children.
Politicians are all polite and decent in their external, superficial personas. Deep down they all have evil souls. They will go after UFC fighting rings like John McCain and call them “human cockfighting” and try to pass a law saying it is “indecent” while they go around authorizing more bombing campaigns to kill millions.
Boxers like Mohamed Ali are not polite and decent superficially. They are trash talkers but only superficially, because that’s the entertainment they provide. But when it comes down to what really matters – are you going to kill people or not, people who did nothing to you – he stood up to the State and said no. He would not. He would rather go to prison. And so would I. And so he did. And he lost his sport, his livelihood, his reputation for a while, but in the end he won that greatest of fights, too. Not in the ring with another boxer, but in the global ring with the government – he fought and he won.
And he didn’t let all the academic bull about patriotism and duty and American the Great and Beautiful confuse him. America is not great and beautiful. Only some individuals are. Some are not.
Ali was wrong about the enemy being the “white people” obviously. The enemy is the State, which grinds races against one another by taking money from one to give to another. But for his absolutely courageous bravery in standing up to the warmongering politicians, he is my hero.
I love Mohamed Ali, and the world is worse off without him in it.
יהי זכרו ברוך.