I wonder how much attention this aspect of “The Greatest’s” legacy will garner:
[T]here was one side of the man known universally as “The Champ” or “The Greatest” that so far has received little press attention: How Ali, who startled Middle America with his conversion to the Muslim faith in 1964 and refusal to register for the draft during the Vietnam War, was an active supporter of conservative Republicans in his later years.
He startled many longtime fans in 1984 by endorsing President Ronald Reagan for re-election. Ali also backed friend and former New Mexico Gov. David Cargo in a losing race for Congress in 1986, proclaiming Republican Cargo was “the right white.” He also stumped for South Carolina’s conservative former State GOP Chairman Van Hipp for Congress in 1994 and helped Republican Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch win re-election in 1988.
“I like Orrin,” Ali told reporters in 1988, “He’s a nice fella. He’s a capable man and he’s an honest man. And he fights for what he believes in.” Ali said he had been particularly moved the year before watching Hatch in the televised Iran-Contra hearings and in the hearings on Robert Bork’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
But it was “The Champ’s” support of Reagan in ’84 that made the most headlines. Having backed Jesse Jackson [aka the Sinister Minister] in his unsuccessful bid for the Democrat presidential nomination, Ali announced in October of that year that he was switching his support to Republican Reagan.
“He’s keeping God in schools and that’s enough,” explained Ali, who was later joined by fellow past heavyweight champions Joe Frazier and Floyd Patterson in endorsing Reagan.
Man, if that doesn’t mark “The Greatest” as a representative and symbol of a bygone era, nothing will. Which is why the media will bury it in favor of its preferred Narrative – his selling out to Islam, his draft-dodging, and his larger-than-life persona.
How buried is it already? I didn’t know that Ali had endorsed the Gipper or any other Republican, for that matter.
Makes one wonder what his thoughts and/or feelings were about Donald Trump, doesn’t it?