Ali remembered by Malcolm X Memorial Foundation

Posted at 5:29 PM, Jun 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-05 18:29:02-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) -- At the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation in Omaha on Saturday afternoon, discussion of Muhammad Ali's greatness focused on his athletic prowess.


"He lived up to his title,” said Walter Brooks, a member of the Board of Directors at the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation, “we all know when he started calling himself the greatest, more for entertainment and notoriety, but he actually fulfilled his name.”


Ali became known for his courage outside the ring.


"He was the first great African American athlete to culturally turn around and become a member of the nation of Islam."


In 1962, then Cassius Clay met Malcolm X. Two years later, Clay would convert to Islam, and join the Nation of Islam.


Ali's political punching power would grow from there. In 1967, Ali refused to join the Army when he was drafted.


"We loved him because he was always so honest," Brooks said.


He continued to speak out against racial injustice in the United States.


“His total love and devotion for the common people, especially the common African American people," Brooks said.


His defiance, bravado, and confidence inspired others - like Nicholas Johnson.


Johnson met Ali 3 times in Johnson's hometown of Buffalo, New York.


"He was known worldwide, people respected him, everyone respected him because he was very friendly,” Johnson said.


Those stories will always be told here, in this building dedicated to men who refused to settle for the status quo.