The life of Muhammad Ali had an impact on many faiths beyond his own. Consider how former opponent, George Foreman, spoke on how Ali helped his life transformation and his Christian ministry.
Fox News interview:
News anchor: You went through a major transformation and a personality transformation as you can into a deeper understanding of God and your life. You were a tough guy back then. You were hard emotionally. Did Ali play any role in softening you up?
George Foreman: It didn’t help when he knocked me down in Zaire Africa. That had a lot to do with me being humble…I became a minister and I would preach on the street corner. I was 315 pounds, I cut off all my hair, my beloved mustache was gone, nobody knew me, but when I started talking by saying “yes, I fought Muhammad Ali, yes he knocked me down, they would stop and listen to me. He became an even better part of my life and made some great contributions to my life beyond boxing. He helped my ministry.
News anchor: How did he actually help your ministry that would come as a shock to many people, a Christian working with a Muslim.
George Foreman: I had been preaching on a street corner and no one would recognize me. I had gotten so big. I had to cut my Afro. I cut my mustache. People didn’t know me, but whenever I brought up the fight people would stop. Even if they were about to get on the bus they would stop and listen to me on the street corner. That was an aid to my ministry. That most famous name really helped me.
Muhammad Ali’s conscientious objection case regarding the Vietnam War draft won a unanimous Supreme Court verdict and impacted religious conscientious objection for other faiths. Many regarded Ali as America’s first Muslim role model. Ali started out as a Black Muslim and later adopted Sufism — a more contemplative and peaceful denomination of Islam.
Muhammad Ali found mutual admiration when he met Billy Graham. Billy Graham called Ali a “healer” and Ali said of Graham “I always said if I was a Christian, I would want to be a Christian like him.” Both men represent rare individuals who had unique world name ID and found that their support crossed traditional religious boundaries.
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