Khalila Camacho Ali, the former wife of legendary world boxing champion Muhammad Ali, has advised Muslim women to follow the principles enshrined in Islam for how they should live and work, and not what she called “hislam,” which is a biased view. is. Ali spoke at an event hosted by the Spiritual Chords Foundation, a Muslim-ethic charitable and social welfare organization run in Johannesburg by social activist Safeeyah Moosa, on Saturday during a whirlwind tour of South Africa. Ali shared how, at the age of ten, she had played a key role in persuading ambitious aspiring world champion Cassius Clay to change his name and eventually marry him several years later.
She also outlined her role in convincing him to become a conscientious objector and refusing to do military service for America in its protracted war against Vietnam.
Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title in 1967 for refusing to enlist in the United States military.
He was convicted of conscription evasion, which included a five-year prison sentence, a $10,000 fine and a three-year ban from professional boxing.
The conviction was overturned by the US Supreme Court three years later.
“I told him to say, ‘Hell No! I do not want to go!’ about his military service for the Vietnam War and he did it live on TV for the whole world to see word for word,” said Ali.
She later divorced Ali because of his indiscretions, but said she had now forgiven him and found her peace, as will be seen in her book due out next month.
“There were a lot of things I had to go through to heal and forgive, so now my healing is over and I’m ready to share my story,” Ali said, adding that it was important to share this with women and girls. to do. whether they were of Muslim descent or not.
She explained how she first met Ali when she was only ten years old at the school she attended.
“This man came on stage. He was about 18 years old and his name was Cassius Marcellus Clay. He said, ‘I’m going to be the heavyweight champion of the world before I’m 21, so get your autograph now, because I’m going to be famous.'” Ali explained how she had joked about his names and tore up the piece of paper he gave her. gave with his name on it and told him to come back when he had a decent Muslim name.
Enamored with her spunkiness, Ali continued to meet her over the years, eventually proposing to her when she was 16, when he also decided to adopt the Muslim faith and change his name.
They married in 1967 and separated a decade later after a bitter divorce battle.
A karate expert himself, Ali suggested that legendary martial arts champion and actor Bruce Lee would have become Muslim had he not died prematurely at the age of 32 in 1973 at the height of his career.
“Bruce Lee was a very important man. He was a great man and he is so missed. If he hadn’t died so soon… he was very interested in Islam at the time. He liked what I said about Islam,” said Ali.
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