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The Ali Effect

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So many thoughts. So many questions. So much controversy. So much for us to learn from his actions. Such was the man and his effect on the country. Others have written with far more eloquence than I ever could about the legacy of Muhammad Ali, but from where we are now, we had better pay attention because he had so much to teach us about ourselves and where we are as a culture.

Has boxing been the same since he thankfully retired from the ring in 1980? A rhetorical question, to be sure. Yes, we did have Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns and Ray Mancini, but those were strictly fighters. Boxers. Sportsmen. Boxing has fallen farther than politics into the realm of parody, and as an entertainment choice is pretty much irrelevant. Yes, there was that fight between those two guys about a year ago that promised a great match up, but all I can remember is that people complained bitterly about how much they had to shell out for the Pay-Per-View for a fight that was decidedly terrible to watch. I could look up the fighters’ names, but I figure that if I can’t remember the latest fight of the century, it couldn’t have been memorable. That never happened for an Ali fight, even the ones that only got shown in movie theaters where the cigar smoke was so thick it’s a wonder that the fire alarms didn’t go off. Ali was vital. He was a compelling star. And you couldn’t take your eyes off him.

And, no, I do not ever remember wondering how much money any of his big fights raised, nor how much anybody had to pay to see them.

Ali also became the template for the political athlete. He paved the way for Bill Russell, Bill Walton, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Billie Jean King and others (though not countless others, unfortunately) who saw that sports was intricately connected to politics and to world events. Anyone like me who grew up during the Cold War must remember the protestations by Olympic officials and sportscasters who said that sports and politics must not mix, only to be roundly and crushingly contradicted by the black gloves, Munich, steroids and doping, the Apartheid banishments, the boycotts of 1980 and 1984, and a certain hockey game in Lake Placid. Ali took a stand on the most controversial issues of his day, Vietnam and Civil Rights and spoke truth to power. He didn’t worry, at least outwardly, about shoe contracts or his personal wealth. He was banished, then reinstated, and won more titles. Then he became the ambassador to the world. He led, and that’s what’s made it possible for other athletes to stand up to racist basketball owners and to speak out when members of minority groups are shot by police under dubious and outright illegal circumstances.

Ali was a Muslim. Think about that if you need to. Imagine Ali and Kareem and Ahmad Rashad and every other athlete and entertainer who became a Muslim and changed their name doing so today in the age of know-nothing politicians and citizens who are utterly ignorant of the religion. Would he ever get a fight? Would the government put him on the no-fly list? How much twitter shame would he have to endure? As controversial as it was for people to become Muslims in the 1960s and 70s, and it was controversial, today we would see boycotts and, likely, violence. Ali was able to take his conversion and make it all about peace. He used his religious beliefs as the basis for his pacifism and his sense of justice. And he was right; institutional racism was far more of a threat to him and other African-Americans in 1967 than the Vietcong.

Ali was neither universally popular nor loved during his athletic heyday, nor should we expect that he would be.  But as we are entering another era of domestic change and upheaval, we do need to remember that all people in all professions need to stand up for what is right and for the equal treatment of all people.

For more, go to www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives or Twitter @rigrundfest

Sports

Manny Pacquiao Believes Date With Mayweather Will be Announced Soon

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And fans of boxing sit on pins and needles, anxiously awaiting a date.

Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino star, who is willing to take a smaller percentage of the purse to push negotiations through, suggested talks are on track to the Manila Standard (h/t Martin Domin of the MailOnline):

“We will make an announcement before the end of the month. I think it will happen,” Pacquiao revealed.

Fans can expect Mayweather’s love affair with Las Vegas’ MGM Grand to continue in a fight worth approximately $300 million. It is widely suggested Pacquiao wishes to battle on May 2 to coincide with Cinco de Mayo, but Miguel Cotto is also expected to face Saul Alvarez in another major box office draw on this date.

Sports

Mohammed Ali Hospitalized with Pneumonia

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CNN is reporting that famed boxer Muhammad Ali was admitted to an undisclosed hospital Saturday with pneumonia, his spokesman Bob Gunnell said.

Ali’s treatment prognosis is good, he said.

“Ali, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, is being treated by his team of doctors and is in stable condition,” Gunnell said in a statement.

The illness was caught early, and Ali, 72, is not expected to be in the hospital long.

“At this time, the Muhammad Ali family respectfully requests privacy,” the statement said.

Sports

The Mayweather / Pacquiao Fight Has Begun

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Floyd Mayweather threw the first jab in an interview last week, finally saying that he wants to fight Pacquiao on May 2nd.

“We are ready. Let’s make it happen. May 2. Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao. Let’s do it,” Mayweather said.

Unfazed by Mayweather’s hit, Manny Pacquiao shot back with one of his signature moves.

He [Mayweather] has reached a dead end,” Pacquiao told skysports.com. “He has nowhere to run but to fight me.

“I will try my best to make this a thrilling and entertaining fight, but I doubt if he’s gonna engage me in a slugfest.

“You all know his fighting style. Most of his previous fights, if not all, induced us to sleep.”

And to make sure that Floyd get the message, Manny tweeted this directly to his opponent:

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If the two meet in the ring instead of the jib jab they’re now find themselves in, this could be the match of the century year. Fans have been praying for this matchup for years, but it did not happened because of the purse circumstances beyond their control.

I will tentatively circle this date on my calendar… well maybe not a full circle… maybe something looking like a big C around the May 2 date will be enough.

murder #Sports

Floyd Mayweather Witnessed Murder Suicide on FaceTime

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Terrible news being reported by TMZ.

Sources tell TMZ that rapper Earl Hayes called Floyd on FaceTime Monday morning in a rage, over claims his wife — VH1 star Stephanie Moseley — had been unfaithful.

According to our Floyd sources, Earl said he was going to kill his wife. The champ was pleading with him to get a grip … to no avail. Floyd will not say how much he saw, but he acknowledges he was a witness and heard everything. 

Floyd is in shock and is having extreme difficulty dealing with the fact that he witnessed a horrifying murder/suicide.

Featured

George Zimmerman Fight Back On Again

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George Zimmerman’s celebrity boxing match — abruptly cancelled when the promoter pulled the plug yesterday — is back on again … promising to be a much bloodier event … according to a promoter who claims to have taken over the fight.

An online streaming service called FilmOn.com says it secured the rights to a Zimmerman fight … after the original promoter, Damon Feldman pulled out because of threats made against his kids.

FilmOn says it’s gonna give the public what it wants — blood — and tells us DMX is out as the challenger because “much bigger names than DMX” want in.

The owner of FilmOn, Alki David, tells TMZ … the fight will no longer be a celebrity boxing match… “this is going to be like Fight Club … a very bloody event.”  Alki says the fight will happen March 15 from a secret location … and all profits will go to the Trayvon Martin Foundation.

But TMZ has learned the resurrected fight is not yet a done deal — we’re told FilmOn is still negotiating with Feldman for the rights and nothing has been signed.

Featured #News

George Zimmerman Signs Up For ‘Celebrity’ Boxing Match

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George Zimmerman, acquitted in the high-profile killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, arrives in court Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, in Sanford, Fla., for his hearing on charges including aggravated assault stemming from a fight with his girlfriend. (AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Joe Burbank, Pool)

There are many people who would relish the opportunity to take a swing at unconvicted killer George Zimmerman, and at least one lucky person will get that chance.

Zimmerman, who was found not guilty on murder charges after he followed and eventually gunned down 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, will participate in a “celebrity” boxing match that will be aired online and on Pay-Per-View on March 1, 2014.

“It was my idea,” Zimmerman, 30, said in an interview with Radar Online.

“Prior to the incident I was actually going to the gym for weight loss and doing boxing-type training for weight loss and a mutual friend put me in contact with Damon and provided me with an opportunity and motivation to get back in shape and continue with my weight loss goals and also be able to help a charity out.”

The “incident,” of course, is his killing of an unarmed teenager.

Read more from Radar Online:

“Boxing isn’t new to me. It’s something I had picked up well before the incident and it’s something that I liked, I enjoyed, and I kept up with it and I was able to lose a tremendous amount of weight and get a healthy lifestyle,” he told Radar.

“So it’s not a new hobby, it’s something I have been doing and wanting to pursue to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

“I don’t have a preference [on opponent] as long as it goes to charity, doesn’t matter to me. Hopefully someone that won’t hurt me too bad!” Zimmerman said, but after thinking about it a minute told Radar, “If I had my top three I’d say Papa Smurf, the Easter Bunny and maybe the Michelin Man.”

Zimmerman, who has taken full advantage of his notoriety, shared the news on his Twitter page.

Only in America can you become famous for killing a Black child in cold blood.

If you’d like the chance to fight George Zimmerman, email here: [email protected].

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