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World Icons: Muhammad Ali

No, he is not a supporter of Rodrigo Duterte.

Muhammad Ali was a name I heard my father mention often as a child. "The greatest boxer in the world", he called him. The name "Muhammad Ali" was, in fact, the very first Islamic name I have ever come across in my life, before I knew about the Holy Prophet Mohammed, and even before I knew there were other religions aside from Roman Catholic.

In grade school, my mum used to take me and my brothers to watch movies at Ali Mall in Cubao. She told me that Ali Mall was owned by Muhammad Ali (this was of course inaccurate, as the mall was only named after him). I was surprised, and replied, "Really? He's Filipino?" She said no, that Muhammad Ali fought a famous boxing match at the Araneta Coliseum ("Thrilla in Manila", which I didn't know back then), and used a portion of the proceeds from his victory to build the mall (again, inaccurate). Ah, Ali Mall. This was where I saw my first last full show, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and where I used to while the time away playing SNES games after going home from school.

My next encounter with the champ was in college, when Will Smith starred in the biopic Ali. My encounter with this film was limited to the trailer, as I didn't feel like watching it. Why? I don't know. Probably because based on the trailer, I didn't think Will Smith was doing the Champ any justice with his portrayal.

After that, I crossed paths with the Champ once more in law school. We all know what I'm talking about: the landmark case for conscientious objectors, Clay v. United States. This was the case where Ali (whose birth name was Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.) objected to being drafted for the war in Vietnam, citing religious reasons. This case resonated with me, being one which involved a celebrity, and I even wrote a poem based on a line from the US Supreme Court's decision.

Goodbye, Champ. I've never seen you actually fight, and I just might head over to YouTube to do just that.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, eat like a pig.

Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. a.k.a. Muhammad Ali. 17 January 1942 – 3 June 2016.


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