ALI: what was most important to me

When I started getting attacked so bad because I am a Muslim, I had to decide, if it would come to me having to give up one or the other, what was most important to me, my religion or my fighting. I made up my mind that I could give up fighting and never look back. Because it’s a whole pile of other ways I could make a living. Me being the world heavyweight champion feels very small and cheap to me when I put that alongside of how millions of my poor black brothers and sisters are having to struggle just to get their human rights here in America. Maybe God got me here for a sacrifice. I don’t know. But I do know that God don’t want me to go down for standing up.

— Muhammad Ali

Alex Haley Interview, Playboy (1964) 

 

 

Full quote in context:

 

Haley: Speaking of Islam, the National Boxing Association announced that it was considering the revocation of your heavyweight title because of your membership in the Black Muslims, which you announced just after the fight. Have you heard any official word on their decision?

 

Clay: It just fizzled out. But until it did, the N. B. A. was going to condemn me, try me, sentence me and execute me, all by themselves. Ain’t this country supposed to be where every man can have the religion he wants, evenno religion if that’s what he wants? It ain’t a court in America that would take a man’s job, or his title, because of his religious convictions. The Constitution forbids Congress from making any laws involving a man’s religion. But the N. B. A. would take it on itself to take away my title—for what? What have I done to hurt boxing? I’ve helpedboxing. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t bother with nobody. Ain’t it funny they never said nothing about Liston? He’s been arrested for armed robbery, beating up cops, carrying concealed weapons, and I don’t knowwhat all. And how come they didn’t lift Gene Fullmer’s title? He was a Mormon. His religion believes Negroes are inferior; they ban Negroes from membership. But I guess that’s all right. The N. B. A. don’t have no power noway. They can’t stop nobody from fighting. And even if they could, it wouldn’t matter, because I don’t put that much value on no heavyweight crown anyway. Time was when I did, but that was before I found the religious convictions that I have. When I started getting attacked so bad because I am a Muslim, I had to decide, if it would come to me having to give up one or the other, what was most important to me, my religion or my fighting. I made up my mind that I could give up fighting and never look back. Because it’s a whole pile of other ways I could make a living. Me being the world heavyweight champion feels very small and cheap to me when I put that alongside of how millions of my poor black brothers and sisters are having to struggle just to get their human rights here in America. Maybe God got me here for a sacrifice. I don’t know. But I do know that God don’t want me to go down for standing up.

via Alex Haley Interviews Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) Former Fast-Talking And Hard-Hitting Heavyweight Champ


 

Advertisements

One thought on “ALI: what was most important to me

  1. Pingback: Guralivul Ali spune povești îngerilor – The Babbler Ali tells stories to the angels | look around!

Comments are closed.