WASHINGTON — For Muhammad Ali, the idea of being a humble athlete — someone pre-packaged and palatable for white America — was never an option.
Instead, he demanded respect not only as a boxer but as a brash, unbought and unbossed black man and endeared himself to African-Americans as a symbol of black pride. He radiated courage and confidence, skill and showmanship.
“He became the incarnation of black defiance, black protest and black excellence at the same time,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, a longtime friend of Ali’s.