Arum: Muhammad Ali Was Right on War Stance, I Was Wrong

For Top Rank's CEO Bob Arum, who befriended Muhammad Ali some 50 years ago, the former heavyweight champion's legacy in the boxing ring pales in comparison to his impact on America and the world.

Arum told Reuters on Saturday, the day after Ali died in a Phoenix-area hospital at the age of 74, that his long-time friend should be remembered for standing up against racism and war at a time when doing so was risky and unpopular.

"I think when you talk about Muhammad Ali, as great an athlete, as great a boxer as he was, he was the greatest boxer of all time, he means so much more to the United States and the world," Arum said. "He was a transformative figure in our society."


Arum, 84, recalled that Ali strode onto the world stage in the mid-1960s, at a time when African Americans were still fighting for basic civil rights.

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"And while Martin Luther King was talking sense and talking about progress that could be made in his soft-spoken way, Ali, with his big mouth was thundering and demanding rights for African-American people and standing up for what was right," Arum said.

"At first that didn't sit well with the people in the United States. At fights he was booed because they felt that he was too outspoken," he said.

Arum said he disagreed at the time with Ali's refusal to be drafted into the US Army and fight in Vietnam, a stand that cost the fighter his world boxing crown.

"And I said 'hell no', I advised him just the opposite," Arum said. "But of course he wouldn't listen. He did what he thought was right. And it turned out he was right, and I was wrong."

The promoter said Ali gave up three years in the prime of his career to stand up for those convictions and was ultimately vindicated in the public eye.

"So when I look back at his life, and I was blessed to call him a friend and spent a lot of time with him, it's hard for me to talk about his exploits in boxing because as great as they were they paled in comparison to the impact that he had on the world," Arum said.

Tags: Bob Arum image   Muhammad Ali image  
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Roberto Vasquez on 06-05-2016

I'm a huge fan of Ali. But I don't like the white-washing of him in the media. He was a complex character, not some kind of saint. At one point in his life he preached racial segregation (imagine if a…

Comment by _Maxi on 06-05-2016

Well it's truth that Ali used to call other back people that they looked like monkeys... isn't that racist?

Comment by aboutfkntime on 06-05-2016

[QUOTE=Steve plunger;16766148]I'm white , non religious and yet look up to ali as the God of [email protected] off and go spread your vileness some other place than here....the dead can't defend themselves and have some respect for man who's…

Comment by Mzembe on 06-05-2016

[QUOTE=CmdrSoCal;16766047]Muhammad was trash. A racist hate monger bigot who was the opposition to MLK and the other black civil rights activists and boxers of his day. The sufi/luciferian muslim murdered the real freedom fighter Malcolm X for his establishment lords.…

Comment by Bullrush on 06-05-2016

Shut the **** up, Bob. Nobody gives a ****.

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