As we say goodbye to the Champ, the legacy he left outside of the ring remains just as important as the one inside.
Muhammad Ali dedicated his life, both locally and globally, to help those in need and to work towards gender, economic and racial equality. Ali traveled the world to learn about its people, inspire religious tolerance and offer assistance where he could.
HIs charitable works spread wide across America.
Ali worked generously with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Special Olympics. He visited soup kitchens and raised money through celebrity fight nights.
Ive always wanted to be more than just a boxer,” Ali said. “More than just the three-time heavyweight champion. I wanted to use my fame, and this face that everyone knows so well, to help uplift and inspire people around the world.
Religious tolerance also played a large role in his life. Though he was devoutly Muslim, he regularly met with leaders of other faiths to impart a greater understanding between the religions of the world.
“Rivers, ponds, lakes, and streams they all have different names, but they all contain water. So religions all have different names, but they all contain the same truths,” Ali was quoted as saying by CNN, when asked about 9/11. “I think the people of our religion should be tolerant and understand people believe different things. It’s a shame that this (tolerance) didn’t happen before.”
His work extended globally, too. The United Nations named Ali a Messenger of Peace in 1998 because of his work with developing nations.
“Mr. Ali first came to the UN in 1978 to address the UN Special Committee against Apartheid with a message of peace and spirituality,” reads his biography on the UN website. “He brings people from all races together by preaching ‘healing’ to everyone irrespective of race, religion or age. Over the years Mr. Ali has been a relentless advocate for people in need and a significant humanitarian actor in the developing world, supporting relief and development initiatives and hand-delivering food and medical supplies to hospitals, street children and orphanages in Africa and Asia.”
Ali traveled with Disarm Education Fund and Direct Relief International to deliver $1.2 million-worth of medicine and medicinal supply to Cuba in 1998. He brought humanitarian aid to the Ivory Coast. He made mission trips to both Afghanistan and North Korea to promote goodwill.
When Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, Ali went to South Africa to meet him.
Returning back to support his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, Ali and his wife helped start the Muhammad Ali Center in 2005, with the goal of bringing his mission of opportunity and assistance to his community.
“In its 10-year history, the center has created programs that exemplify the principles of Muhammad Ali and the mission of the center,” the center’s website reads. “Over the past decade, the center has developed impactful programming serving children and adults, reaching people of all cultures, nationalities, ages, and geographic areas.”
The center’s mission focuses around educational opportunities, programs to promote gender equality in all areas and inspiring global citizenship.
His charitable accomplishments were also felt by those closest to him.
“Today, we are in greater need of heroes like my father, especially in a sports culture where athletes seem to be chasing fame merely for the pleasure of making money or breaking records,” Ali’s daughter Hana Ali wrote about himin 2011. “There is little awareness of the responsibilities that accompany fame…I extend my gratitude to my father. Helping strangers in need has always been his insatiable drive.”
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