Sunday people from across the country are mourning the loss of a boxing legend.
But Muhammad Ali was also known for his work outside of the ring, and for being a trailblazer for the Islamic religion.
A worldwide boxing champion known as ‘the greatest,’ but Muhammad Ali was also known as so much more.
“He was a humanitarian, he fought for civil rights, civil liberties, and you know he did a lot for Islam,” said Saad Mohammed, Director of Information for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City.
In 1964 Ali changed his name from Cassius Clay Jr. and announced his conversion to Islam; a move that had never been done by a revered American champion.
“I think that a lot of people thought that since this great American athlete can embrace this religion. Maybe I can look into this, and investigate more and see what Islam really represents,” said Mohammed.
Mohammed says throughout his life Ali was known as a warrior for civil rights, also dedicated to helping those in need.
“He fed the poor and the hungry not only in America but Africa and the Phillipeans. He helped free hostages from Iraq when Iraq had hostages over there,” said Mohammed.
Sunday night Mohammed says Muslims across the world are mourning.
“It was a painful loss. When my wife told me he passed, it saddened me,” said Mohammed.
Mohammed says through his retirement and battle with Parkinson’s, Ali continued to break barriers and show the true heart of Islam, and he will forever be remembered as a Muslim-American hero.
“In an interview he was asked ‘now that you’re retired what are you going to do now?’ and his answer was ‘I’m preparing to meet guide. And that was his way of preparation was giving to the needy. Giving to the hungry,” said Mohammed.
Ali is survived by 9 children. A public memorial for the legendary boxer is set for Friday in Louisville where he was born.