Currently, Muhammad Ali is 64 years old. In the more recent 46 of those years, Ali has developed from a dashing, groundbreaking Black Muslim that was loathed by many to one of the more beloved figures from his generation. He lives in peaceful Berrien Springs, Michigan, in the same farmhouse that gangster Al Capone used as a hideout and secret stash for weapons. He married three times and is now wedded to his fourth, Lonnie, who acts as his final and dearest care keeper. Since Ali's last fight against Trevor Berbick in 1981, he has traveled the world promoting everything that is good and using his image for the causes that Ali feels is right. He travels so much that he rarely spends 100 days at his home in rural Michigan.
Muhammad Ali, a man who, when he first burst onto the scene in 1960, was known for both his blinding quickness and mouth (he wasn't named the Louisville Lip for nothing), has had those qualities slowly pried away from him. Parkinson's disease, which has affected the lives of an estimated 1.5 million Americans, has caused Ali to become a prisoner of his own body. It causes cells in the middle part of the brain to degenerate, reducing the production of the chemical dopamine, eventually leading to tremors, slowness of movement, memory loss, and other neurological symptoms. Both cause and cure are unknown. While many have theorized that his damaging fights against George Foreman (1974), Joe Frazier (1971-75), and Larry Holmes (1981) catalyzed the effects of the disease, others conclude that it advanced naturally.
Despite the ruthless onslaught of Parkinson's over the years, Ali has kept up his rigorous schedule. Various awards and accolades have been thrown in Ali's direction, especially in recent years. In 1983, Ali was inducted into the US Olympic Hall of Fame for winning the gold medal in 1960. Ring Magazine named Ali the Greatest Boxer of All Time (something Ali had been promoting himself as since he started boxing) in 1987. The 1990s also were a good decade for Ali, as he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (1990). He also jumpstarted the 1996 Olympics by igniting the Olympic torch; an action that moved the majority of an international audience to tears (clip above). As Larry Schwartz of ESPN.com pointed out, ''Tears were shed by many, as the man whose beliefs had once divided a nation was now a unifying -- and beloved -- force.'' In November 2005, Ali was invited to the White House to receive the nation's highest civil award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and weeks later attended the opening ceremony of the new Muhammad Ali Center and Library in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. His person, once rejected and shunned by many, has now been welcomed with open arms by the international world on an unprecedented scale.
MUHAMMAD ALI: UN MESSENGER OF PEACE
Although Muhammad Ali will forever be known as boxing’s greatest champion, Ali himself was also a champion for peace and equality in the world. During the 1970’s, Ali spent much of his time in Africa and in Asia working as a humanitarian. There he helped many villages and poor areas that needed better eating and housing conditions. In an attempt to help them, Ali heroically and courageously hand –delivered food, medicine and other goods to hospitals, orphanages and even street children. As a result, in 1998 he was recognized for his actions and heroism by being appointed official United Nations messenger of peace.
While in these continents Ali also preached some of his Muslim beliefs to many people, regardless of their faith, race or age. In 2002, Ali led a mission to Afghanistan to help raise humanitarian needs for the Afghani people and with the help of the UN he was able to do such a mission. Along with organizations such as UNICEF and WFP, Ali was also able to provide better food supplies and give money to the government to help rebuild some of their once great boxing gyms. Through these acts of generosity and selflessness, Ali will always be known as a champion not only in the ring, but as a humanitarian to the rest of the world.
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE OF AFGHANISTAN
FROM UN MESSENGER OF PEACE MUHAMMAD ALI
Dear Young People,
I want to share with you some of feelings about how bright your future is. My life and my success were built upon the preparation that I practiced when I was a young person growing up in a poor place in America. And just like myself, I know that you will succeed if you can always keep these three things in mind:
1. Have faith and be a good Muslim. Your faith will help you through the most difficult days.
2. Prepare your mind for the challenges of life. Your education will be an important part of your life. You must study hard, respect your teachers, and follow their guidance.
3. Prepare your body, by practicing physical activity and sports, because sports build fellowship, character, and independence. I know that for many of you, it may be difficult to participate in athletic activity because you may not have all the opportunities now, but we must all work together to create more opportunities.
I say these things as I prepare to leave your beautiful country, where it has been both an honor and pleasure to spend the past three days in my role as the United Nations Messenger of Peace. This is a trip to which I had been looking forward for so long, and I am pleased to say that it has exceeded my expectations.
There has been much that has been achieved so far in Afghanistan by the humanitarian community working together with the Afghan government and people. I saw that myself first-hand yesterday, when I sat among young girl students in an UNICEF-supported school. To see the girls studying, knowing that they had been denied opportunities to learn for many years was inspiring.
I saw too how the most vulnerable people here in Kabul are being provided with support from the World Food Programme, through its women's bakery programme that provides both income to widows and of course vital food supplies to those most in need.
Above all, I believe I have seen - in the young people like yourselves that I met - not just the Afghanistan of today, but the Afghanistan of tomorrow. That tomorrow will be your tomorrow, and the world must not fail you. This is where the adults of the world can make a difference to your lives, by continuing their good work for the rebuilding of your country.
I want to thank you, my young friends, for showing me how strong you are in spite of the hardships your country still faces. You must keep that strength. You must continue to hope for a brighter tomorrow. You are the life and soul of Afghanistan.
Final "thank yous" for the website-
Our thanks goes out to all the people involved in helping us create this site, and guide us through the difficult process of making it. Also we would like to source a few books that were instrumental in the information found and gathered on this website:
1. Remnick, David. King of the World.
New York: Vintage Books, 1998
2. Ali, Hana. More Than a Hero: Muhammad Ali’s Life Lessons Presented Through His
Daughter’s Eyes. New York: Pocket Books, 2000
3. Early, Gerald (editor). Various authors. The Muhammad Ali Reader.
New Jersey: The Ecco Press, 1998
Thank you and we hoped you enjoyed browsing this website.
Owyn, Chris, and Amahd.