Trump: Muhammad Ali ‘great champion and a wonderful guy’
“Muhammad Ali is dead at 74! A truly great champion and a wonderful guy. He will be missed by all!” Trump wrote.
Ali died Friday night at age 74 near Phoenix, Ariz. The legendary boxer became a global icon of civil rights and black empowerment later in his life.
Ali, who converted to Islam early in his career, spoke out late last year after Trump proposed banning Muslims from entering the U.S.
“I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world,” he said in a statement in December.
Ali didn’t directly name Trump, but the statement said it was “regarding presidential candidates proposing to ban Muslim immigration to the US.”
“Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is,” Ali said.
Around the same time, Trump drew criticism when he questioned the idea of Muslim sports stars in response to President Obama making reference to them.
“Obama said in his speech that Muslims are our sports heroes. What sport is he talking about, and who? Is Obama profiling?” Trump tweeted in December.
The question was considered to be especially egregious because Trump has touted his friendship with Ali in the past.
Earlier in 2015, the businessman shared a photo of the two men together when Trump accepted the Muhammad Ali Award at a charity event put on by the boxer.