Muhammad Ali Dbq

Words: 1022
Pages: 5

Muhammad Ali’s life was a tale of contrasts. While he was loved for his achievements inside the ring, Ali was a lightning rod for controversy outside of it. Often making bold statements and insulting his opponents before fights, most people quickly began to love him or hate him. These feelings only intensified when Ali converted to Islam and changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali. Rationalizing his decision by referencing Cassius Clay as being his “slave name” additionally hurt his popularity. The real trigger that split people into supporting or despising Ali, however, came when he refused to fight in the Vietnam War despite being drafted to the United States Armed Forces. Americans interpreted his refusal as either being anti-American …show more content…
Malcolm X commented on this by saying “…now here come Cassius, the exact contrast of everything that was representative of the negro image. He said he was the greatest, all of the odds were against him, he upset the odds makers, he won, he became victorious, he became the champ.” Not only did Ali show to the rest of American society that his skin colour didn’t deter him from doing what he wanted, he also filled millions of African-Americans with the same thoughts. Ali was also responsible for encouraging other African Americans involved in the Civil Rights Movement to join him to stand against the war. By convincing millions of African-Americans to stand with him on issue other than segregation dismissed the notion that African-Americans only cared about segregation related issues. Ali also helped the Civil Rights movement gain even more popularity in the process by showing Americans that the movement was multifaceted and stood with the majority on issues like the war in Vietnam. By voicing concerns over the war, Ali helped improve the image of the African-African community and helped lend credence to the Vietnam …show more content…
Ali’s presence, along with other athletes, created an interesting dynamic in discussing the war. Athletes derive significance based on their merits in their respective sports, whereas politicians and lawyers are judged based on whether their viewpoints resemble an individual’s. While certain pockets of the American public could disagree with a politician and dismiss them as having no significance or impact on their life due to a difference in beliefs, the same could not be said for an athlete. Also, since sports figures are idolized, it may have been relatively easy for many Ali to sway some people to support the cause or to at least listen to his points. A big thing Ali’s inclusion in voicing concerns over the war did was put an end to a commonly used strategy by those for the war in Vietnam. One of the strategies people for the war used was painting the protestors as being “weak.” Having the heavyweight champion of the world included in that group quickly put an end to this strategy. By publicly joining the anti-Vietnam War protests, Ali brought an interesting dynamic to the cause and helped improve perceptions of those against the war.

Muhammad Ali’s refusal to fight in the Vietnam War had far reaching impacts on the views American society held regarding athletes, African-Americans, and anti-war