This Week's Story

Ali's wins his third world heavyweight championship boxing title, and courageously confronts Parkinson's Disease.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

Samson and Muhammad Ali Talk, part two

Muhammad Ali and Samson stepped out of an old Pontiac car. Ali walked slowly. The old car and evening darkness disguised them from an ever-curious public.

“Samson, I’m not floating like a butterfly or stinging like a bee in the ring, but finished, oh no!”

“Ali, you have admirers, critics, defeats and victories. Sure you lost three good years of fighting when you were barred from boxing. On the flip side the United States Supreme Court over-turned your conviction unanimously. You had been convicted for refusing to report for induction into the U.S. military forces. The court agreed that no clear reason had been given for why you could not be a conscientious objector.”

“You’re right, Samson, that was a surprise. People on the streets still were split about whether I did right or wrong. What I did, fit my beliefs as a Muslim.”

“I think, Ali, that you should have religious freedom, but what do you believe are your responsibilities as an American?”

“I have two: fight for religious freedom and justice.”

“What about the guys who were fighting and dying in Vietnam for freedom and justice.”

“Like I said, ‘My conscience wouldn’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality.”

“Ali, you haven’t stopped living fast. Your boxing opponent George Foreman said, ‘No one loved living more than you.’ You’re the original rapper, an outrageous trash talker who doesn’t curse and use crude words. You’ve acted, been nominated for two Grammys, published poetry, interviewed, and had two careers in boxing.”

“Yah, I was reinstated for boxing. Joe Frazier beat me after fifteen rounds. It was my first defeat in my pro career, but in 1978 I won the world boxing heavyweight championship for the third time. Nobody did that before. Nine months later I retired at age 37. Then I came out of retirement. Big mistake! I retired for good at age 40.”

“Something was going wrong with my body. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and told there was no cure. I was encouraged to not keep my disease secret. I shared it with the public so I could speak and bring help to others with the disease. Funds could be raised for more research to cure or slow the progress of Parkinson’s.

“Doctors told me that the disease had been progressing in me since I was age 26. I had noticed that my speech was slurring and getting slower. I began to noticeably shake. My limbs were stiffening.”

“Ali, now you serve in projects around the world. Congratulations, my friend, for receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom presented in 2005 by President George W. Bush. It and the Congressional Gold Medal are the highest civilian awards any American can earn.”

“Samson, I have gained more than I have lost.”

This is Barbara Steiner with Muhammad Ali, who confronted disease with courage and a passion to serve.

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