Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, the man who called himself “The Greatest” and then backed it up, died Friday night at the age of 74. The always controversial champ was known for being outspoken in his own, incredible way. When it comes to Donald Trump, it was no different.
The two often ran into each other at social events and fundraisers over the years, with Trump calling the boxing legend “a friend”, but the champ had some clear concerns about the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
Early in the presidential primaries, “The Greatest” had this to say:
“We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda,” Ali said in a statement first released to NBC News. “They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody.”
While Ali never mentions Trump by name, the statement came after the self-reported billionaire famously caused a ruckus after calling for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. The statement from Ali is titled “Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States”.
One of a handful of Muslim celebrities to quickly and publicly decry the 9/11 attacks, Ali likewise struck out at terrorists in the same statement:
“I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world. True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.”
After winning the championship, Ali again shook up the world when he converted to Islam and changed his name from Cassius Clay, declaring himself a “conscientious objector” to fighting the Vietnam war. Those actions led him to be stripped of the heavyweight title and suspended from boxing for three years.
While most Americans have since seen Ali’s stance as that of a principled man who stood up for his beliefs and paid the price for them, some have struck out at him as a “draft dodger”.
Like Ali, Trump avoided military service in Vietnam after graduating college in 1968, but did once say that his dating life was his “personal Vietnam”, something that caused outcry among veterans:
“I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there — it’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam era. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”
Following Ali’s sudden death, Donald Trump tweeted the following message about his friend: “Muhammad Ali is dead at 74! A truly great champion and a wonderful guy. He will be missed by all!”
Muhammad Ali is dead at 74! A truly great champion and a wonderful guy. He will be missed by all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2016