Ali, the three-time world heavyweight champion, died on Friday evening, following respiratory problems exacerbated by his longstanding battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Generally referred to as one of the greatest boxing heavyweights of all time, Ali was known for his highly unusual fighting style which involved dazzling speed, lightning-fast reflexes and constant movement around his opponents.
Ali was equally powerful outside the ring as well, becoming a civil rights icon of 20th-century American history. He was also a vociferous critic of the Vietnam War.
In 1967, Ali refused to be inducted into the US military, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War. He was immediately stripped of his heavyweight title.
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?” Ali asked.
“No, I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end,” he added.
“But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is right here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality,” he continued.