Muhammad Ali Jr. vows to continue his father’s anti-bullying legacy

Muhammad Ali: The original trash talker

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And in 2006 the sporting giant launched a transatlantic anti-bullying conference for children, along with wife Lonnie.

So when his father died 10 years later, in 2016, Muhammad said he was determined to carry on his father’s legacy by continuing to raise awareness of the issue.

Muhammad, 51, set up the organisation Muhammad Ali Legacy Continues, to help youngsters who are struggling with bullying and to promote anti-racism.

He said: “My father told me when I was young that anti-bullying is going to be very important in later life, that it was an issue which was going to be discussed. And, you know, what he said has come true.

“Back when I was in school, if someone bullied someone they would become friends later but not today.

“You get bullied today, you then go on to kill people in school, killing teachers, innocent children… It has to stop.

“So what I do now is anti-bullying talks. I teach bullied kids how to coun­­ter, by learning self-defence but also by teaching them how to talk instead of fight.”

Boxing icon Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr in 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky. He and his father were named after white farmer and abol­­­itionist Maj-Gen Cassius Marcellus Clay.

In 1967, champ Ali refused to join the US military and fight in Vietnam, citing religious reasons. He was arrested and stripped of his heavyweight title.

But he went on to be known for his humanitarian work with the civil rights movement and the United Nations.

After a career record of 56 wins and five losses, he was named Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated and the Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC. And he was eventually awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W Bush.

Muhammad Ali Jr reveals that people inevitably make a beeline for him because of his world-famous father. But he said: “When I meet people and they learn I’m Muhammad Ali’s son, they want to shake my hand again, and I’m not with that.

“You shake my hand first time – don’t come back at me second time just because now you know who I am. Sometimes people come up to me and ask, aren’t you Muham­­mad Ali’s son?

“I say, yes. They say why didn’t you say so? I said I don’t do that. I have to protect myself. I don’t know who you are.”

He also described early fears for his father’s safety. “Back in the day when my father was in the limelight there was still white supremacy going on, the killing of black people. So I was kind of afraid for my own father because of who he was.

“But as far as being really famous, being stuck up, my father never was that.

“He was a humble, kind-hearted person. He loved people, he loved his country and he didn’t let fame get to his head.

“He did a lot of things for people. He went to the hospitals and sat with the old people, the children, all normal people.

“He did a lot of charity and he gave a lot of money away to charity.”

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