Champion, Not Hero
Just watched the Will Smith film ALI for the second time. Same reactions as before, really... Muhammad Ali was an arrogant man whose loyalties lay only with his needs -- those things that satisfied him. For example, his typically cold break from Malcolm X (respectably portrayed by none other than Mario Van Peebles who has, amazingly, come a long way from his young Sweetback days) had nothing to do with religion, but with his inability to accept that the Nation of Islam had questionable practices -- his mentality based on never doubting his own choice to be a member of that group. He later experienced, first-hand, that he was very wrong, but by then Malcolm had long passed. His misogynistic attitudes toward women were successfully portrayed in this film, as well. Nona Gaye (Marvin's wonderfully talented and classically beautiful daughter) truly brought to life Ali's weakest character traits in this respect.
Ali was certainly a man of great contradictions, some of which, like his stance against the U.S. Army draft and his great ability to believe in himself, are worthy of respect. There is no doubt that he was able to stand up for himself. Sadly for him, however, heroes are people who stand up for others.
Muhammad Ali was no hero.