Today, we honor boxing legend and activist Muhammad Ali. Born Cassius Clay, Ali honed his reputation for boxing in Louisville, Kentucky, and began training as an amateur boxer when he was 12 years old. At age 18, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and turned professional later that year.
The legacy of Ali is one that should be immortalized in the black community. Few black entertainers were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to stand up for their principles and their community. At the peak of his career, in an age where black leaders like Malcolm X and MLK were being gunned down, Ali spoke out against racism and the Vietnam war. He refused to be drafted into the U.S. arm forces on the grounds of his religious beliefs as a Muslim. In retaliation, the U.S. and boxing commission conspired, and stripped Ali of his heavyweight boxing title, and banned him from boxing in the United States. Ali was also charged, and convicted for him refusing induction into the U.S. military.
Ali never gave up. Fighting in the court of public opinion, and through the supreme courts, Ali beat the conviction and regain the right to box in the United States. On October 30, 1974, Ali defeated George Foreman to regain his boxing title and become once more the heavyweight champion of the world.
Celebrate black history month tonight by watching the movie about his life story, Ali.
Khufere Qhamata, is the founder of the SMAART INCUBATOR, a serial entrepreneur, and dedicated futurist. He is chief executive of Leap72, a strategic innovation consultancy advising corporations on how to use startup economics to grow and compete for the future. He is also a co-founder and board member of Academy M, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit specializes in the mentorship and career development of millennials. You can follow him on Linkedin.