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Remembering Muhammad Ali, Legendary Boxer and Activist

Last night, legendary boxer and noted civil rights activist Muhammad Ali passed away at the age of 74. Today, the internet is awash with celebrations of his legacy and memorial letters honoring his many accomplishments.

President Obama’s statement highlights one of Ali’s many great quotes: “I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me – black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.”

Ali referred to himself as “The Greatest” with well-earned pride, refusing to back down from this moniker in spite of society’s racism. This video of him standing up for himself after being accused of arrogance by a white woman has also been circulating today, as well as this other video in which Ali explains his decision to refuse to serve in the Vietnam War, and the importance of fighting against racism and oppression here in America.

The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer stood by his principles of greatness both in and out of the ring. As Obama pointed out in his statement, this “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.”

The tweet at the top of this post also highlights another treasured memory for Muhammad Ali fans: the comic book story in which the boxer faced off against Superman himself! In the story, Superman agrees not to use his powers when facing off against the champ, and soon he learns why Ali called himself The Greatest.

(Image via Twitter)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).