A release of FBI files on the late Muhammad Ali sheds damning new light on the legendary boxer’s views about race and politics after immersing himself in the teachings of the Nation of Islam.
Ali referred to Caucasians as “white devils” and “crackers” and told mosque worshipers that “black women have the best sons and daughters in the world,” according to Federal Bureau of Investigation records obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information lawsuit.
Ali, known as Cassius Clay before converting to Islam, also said “programs of integration are useless,” that blacks want separation not integration and that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was a “swindle.”
The three-time heavyweight champ also told fellow Muslims during a mosque rant that “the so-called Negro is the original man and is superior to the white devil” and that he’d rather be with his own people than “blue-eyed devil white people,” JW reported.
“The FBI files present a picture of the late heavyweight champion that is clearly at odds with much of the image portrayed at the time of his death last year,” the JW report concludes in its evaluation of the files, adding:
His deep involvement with the Nation of Islam and its racially divisive rhetoric and behavior is part of a record that deserves to be revealed and contradicts Ali’s image as a civil rights icon. The hundreds of pages of documents are related to the FBI’s investigation of Ali for evading the draft and the government’s monitoring of the Nation of Islam, which is described by the agency as an “all-Negro, quasi-religious organization which espouses a line of violent hatred of the white race, Government, law and law enforcement.”
According the one FBI document, Ali told a crowd of Muslims gathered at a Washington, D.C., mosque that he preferred “dying outright” or going to jail to going into the Army.
At a Cleveland mosque, the boxer said the American flag “represented death and destruction,” but the “Muslim flag” represents “life and prosperity, justice for all black men.”
Ali was eulogized by former President Obama, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and many other iconic civil rights leaders and media personalities after his death in June 2016.
As recently as July 2015, current Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan encouraged his followers to kill white cops in an explosive speech delivered at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Miami. Astonishingly, WND inquired at the time with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for South Florida, which told WND that Farrakhan’s instruction for followers to “stalk them and kill them and let them feel the pain that we are feeling” fell squarely within the realm of protected First Amendment speech and did not cross any legal boundaries.
The records obtained by Judicial Watch reveal the great threat the FBI perceived the Nation of Islam to be in the 1960s. And as a member of that organization, Ali was closely monitored by the agency as a “security matter” due to his associations with Nation of Islam leaders Elijah Mohammad and Malcolm X.
The Nation of Islam followed Mohammad’s interpretation of the Quran, the FBI records say, which taught that white people are “white devils” to be destroyed in a coming “War of Armageddon.”
In April 1964, Ali’s plan to travel to Muslim countries alarmed the FBI to the extent that agents searched his passport files and recorded that while in Accra, Ghana, Ali said he planned to bring four wives back to the U.S.
Jack Cashill, author of the Ali biography “Sucker Punch: The Hard Left Hook that Dazed Ali and Killed King’s Dream,” said Ali was transformed from a solid American kid into an anti-American extremist by the Nation of Islam.
“You don’t need the FBI to know that Ali held racist views,” Cashill told WND. “As late as 1975, Ali was telling Playboy magazine that he believed interracial couples should be lynched.”
Cashill was one of several guests last year on ESPN’s “The Stephen A. Smith Show” who spent an hour discussing Ali. NFL great Jim Brown was also one of the guests, along with Thomas Hauser, who wrote the definitive biography on Ali, “Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times.”
“I said to Hauser, who really knows his stuff, it seems to me the left had no use for Ali, and it definitely had no interest in boxing, which is a working-class, sort of blue-collar sport, and the left had no interest in him until he dodged the draft.”
The theory Cashill puts forth in his book is that Cassius Clay had a chance to advance race relations well beyond any of his peers.
“But instead he joined Nation of Islam, and he was a pariah in the media until he rejected the draft,” Cashill said. “I think it was a phase he went through. He was not naturally a racist at all. And that’s why he was so attractive as a personality. He grew up in a nice sort of middle-class household in Kentucky.”
His contemporary, heavyweight boxer Joe Frasier, acutely felt the sting of Ali’s racist wrath. Ali called Frazier “ugly,” an “Uncle Tom” and a “gorilla.”
Who from that era can forget Ali leaning over Howard Cosell and saying: “It’s going to be a thrilla in Manila when I kill that gorilla.'”
Frazier reportedly never forgave Ali for the comments.
“He had a horrible 10-year period as a human being and the left celebrated him for it, all because he ducked the draft,” Cashill told WND.
‘America don’t have no future’
Ali gave a “curiously intemperate interview” to Playboy, as Cashill describes it, that would appear a month after his Manila fight.
In that interview, he continued to make the case for a separate African-American nation and declared: “America don’t have no future. America’s going to be destroyed.”
In his book “Sucker Punch,” Cashill said that kind of incendiary talk “was still rote Elijah Muhammad.”
“By the mid-1970s, such expressions of national self-loathing had ceased to be provocative. What did provoke in this newly feminized era was his view on sex and gender.”
Cashill further observed:
In comparing Muslims to the allegedly war-worshipping Christians, Ali made the point that Muslims “live their religion – we ain’t hypocrites.” He continued, “We submit entirely to Allah’s will. We don’t eat ham, bacon, or pork. We don’t smoke. And everyone knows we honor our women.” As he went on to explain, Muslim men honor their women by keeping them “in the background” and protecting them from the predations of other men, especially white men. “Put a hand on a Muslim sister,” said Ali, “and you are to die.” When asked if he believed that lynching was the answer to interracial sex, Ali answered, “A black man should be killed if he’s messing with a white woman.”
Ali came into his own as a sports icon during what Cashill calls the era of the “grievance narrative,” which emerged in the latter half of the 1960s following the death of John F. Kennedy. America’s black sports heroes would forever after be defined by their grievances of growing up “a descendant of slaves” and post-slavery oppression, rather than by their unique accomplishments.
In a series of articles about Ali, Cashill further writes:
The heroic possibilities of the grievance narrative did not fully emerge until the latter half of the decade after the death of John Kennedy and the escalation of the war in Vietnam. As told by those who have mythologized the sixties, the youth of America rose up to throw off the shackles of racial paternalism, sexual repression, and imperial ambition. In this context, heroism was achieved not so much through individual accomplishment as through individual awareness of grievances and a collective reordering of the society.
Ali came as close to fulfilling this idea of the hero as any public figure of that era. Indeed, as seen through the looking glass of this fabled decade, his life has taken on the quality of myth.
Fleeced by the mosque
Ali’s ex-wife, Sonji Roi, informed the FBI that the Nation of Islam received 80 percent of the boxer’s earnings. The records obtained by Judicial Watch also state that Ali was arrested for assault and battery in July 1960 at his parents’ home in Louisville, Kentucky, and that his mother witnessed the crime.
Judicial Watch had to sue the government to get the records, which are decades old but come to light as Ali’s family ironically uses his name and legacy to launch a national campaign to end racial and religious profiling.
Just weeks ago, according to JW, Ali’s second wife, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, and son, Muhammad Ali Jr., announced they are launching an anti-discrimination initiative called “Step into the Ring.”
The inspiration for the campaign came from getting detained and questioned at a South Florida airport where mother and son claim they were racially and religiously profiled.
“The Alis were returning from a Jamaican Black History month event in February and assert that federal immigration officers harassed them,” JW reported. “As part of their ‘Step into the Ring’ campaign, they traveled to Capitol Hill in March to make a plea to end racial and religious profiling.”
When Ali died in Phoenix, Arizona, last June, establishment media published glowing obituaries recounting his boxing exploits and status as a civil rights hero. One news outlet called Ali a “civil rights champion” and “an emblem of strength, eloquence, conscience and courage.”
Another wrote that, along with a fearsome reputation as a fighter, Ali spoke out against racism, war and religious intolerance.
Obama issued a statement saying Ali fought for everyone.
“He stood with King and Mandela,” Obama said in a White House statement, adding that the boxer “stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t.”
“His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing,” Obama said. “It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail. But Ali stood his ground. And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today.”
But the other side of Ali’s life is apparent in the newly released FBI files, which, as Judicial Watch states, “paint a vastly different portrait of the boxer.”