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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Honoring Muhammad Ali on his 65th Birthday

August 5, 2009
Floor Statement
Rep. Maxine Waters [D-CA]: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H. Res. 58, honoring a good friend, Muhammad Ali, on the occasion of his 65th birthday and to extend best wishes to him and his family. The Gentlelady from Indiana [Ms. CARSON] is to be commended for bringing this resolution to the House in celebration of an icon of sportsmanship, fortitude, perseverance, and peace.

On November 20, 2005, I was honored to have given remarks during the grand opening of the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville. This educational and cultural center was established to give visitors a glimpse of Ali's life and experiences and to help inspire them to pursue their dreams by applying their maximum potential.

Ali is many things to many people: a world champion, an Olympian, an innovator, a world-class father, husband, and friend. In his 21 years of boxing, he won 56 fights out of 61 and is the first boxer to win the heavyweight championship three times. He achieved the incredible feat of winning an Olympic gold medal in the 1960 games at the age of 18.

However, his legendary charisma, charm, and genius did not stop in the ring or at press conferences. What makes him a true pioneer is the fact that he was principled enough to say no to the Vietnam War. The words he spoke in refusing the draft made a stark social commentary during that time and taught America a valuable way of thinking. Those words taught us that war should always be a last resort and that before we over-commit ourselves elsewhere, we must fix the problems that exist right at home. This philosophy has tremendous relevance to us today in the context of the War in Iraq. Many Americans feel that we should re-align our priorities to address problems at home instead of fighting a war in Iraq.

I wish Muhammad Ali a very happy birthday. For his outstanding contributions to sports and sportsmanship and for the lessons on peace and conviction to principles that he gave the world, I sincerely thank him. His legacy and record of achievement have earned him the title of "the Greatest of All Time." I support this resolution.