Muhammad Ali

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The 1960s were a time of revolutionary ideas and new modes of expression. These new ways of thinking and speaking opened the door to major reforms of American society and culture. People were now standing up for what they believed in, for example, protesting against the mistreatment of African-Americans and refusing to follow the Military Selective Service Act, a law which forced men between the ages 18-26 to fight in the controversial Vietnam War (Youth Movement). Not everyone embraced this new attitude that contained a challenge to existing governmental authority. As an expert on the draft, Phillip MacFarlane wrote, “ Some critics decry the loss of the citizen-soldier as a threat to democracy”(MacFarlane). One prominent anti-war figure during this era came not from the world of ideas, but rather the world of athletics. As unlikely a political leader as he might seem, the legendary heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Muhammad Ali, spoke out powerfully and very visibly in criticizing the war and the drafting of unwilling men to fight in it. Although Ali was usually a heavy favorite in the ring, he was used to being an underdog in his life. Ali was often ridiculed for being an African American Muslim, and many didn’t heed either his ideas based on his religion or the color of his skin. As Thomas Hauser captured in his biography of Ali, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times, the great athlete’s accomplishments in his professional career were accompanied by an underlying sadness that arose from his daily struggle against persecution for the way he looked and the God he worshiped. Critic Robert Lipsyte colorfully commented on this aspect of Hauser’s portrayal when he observed, “for all his celebratory tone, Hauser allows the dark thr...

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...mmad Ali: His Life and times. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991. Print.
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