The Ali apology 50 years in the making

VideoImageBoxing: Thousands gather for Muhammad Ali during his memorial service.

The Champ.Fifty years later, The Courier-Journal, Louisville’s daily paper, apologised for continuing to call him Cassius Clay after he changed it in 1964. It did not consistently refer to him as Muhammad Ali until 1970.Ali died on June 3 and an estimated 100,000 people lined the streets of Louisville to say goodbye to the city’s most celebrated son during his funeral on Saturday (AEST).Executive Editor Neil Budde wrote an editorial that chronicled how the paper for years either ignored Ali’s preferred name or outright mocked it.“We won’t even try to speculate what the motives of the editors in that era were,” he wrote. “The CJ was certainly an early champion of civil rights and desegregation. Yet we took what in today’s light is an oddly hostile approach on the specific issue of Ali’s name, which did little to help race relations in a turbulent time.”The paper was among many newspapers and magazines across the country that continued to call him Cassius Clay for years after he changed his name in keeping with his Islamic faith.Budde said reporter Joe Gerth researched the newspaper’s history and editors debated the proper way to address it after Ali’s death, as a series of planned memorials and spontaneous celebrations consumed the city for a week. The editors decided to issue a belated apology.Ali in action.Source:APHe compared it to the Lexington Herald-Leader’s front-page clarification in 2004, in which the paper apologised for having failed 40 years earlier to properly cover the civil rights movement.Attendees at Ali’s funeral included celebrities like Billy Crystal, Bill Clinton, David Beckham and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Crystal cracked everyone up with his career-making impersonation of a boastful, fast-talking Ali — and his imitation of Ali’s foil, sportscaster Howard Cosell — and rhapsodised about Ali’s charisma, outspokenness and talent, calling the boxing great “a tremendous bolt of light…

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