Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, entertaining the Chinese with a brief stint in the ring, today said that some Americans want to ban boxing only because the sport is dominated by blacks.
Ali, on an 11-day visit to China at the invitation of the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports, told a news conference that he did not agree with claims that boxing is cruel.
“If we stopped all things that cause accidents, then cars would be first,” said the 43-year-old former champion, who suffers from a form of Parkinson’s disease doctors think might have resulted from boxing.
Ali said only a few people want to ban boxing in the United States.
“The reason, I think, is because black people are now in control,” he said. “All the champions are black. Many of the promoters and managers are black. Before, when we had all the white champions, they never talked about stopping boxing.”
At the end of the press conference, Ali climbed into the ring to spar with several young Chinese boxers.
When one extremely small opponent climbed into the ring, Ali began blowing at the young boxer, as if that would knock him over.
“They have great potential, great coordination and great reflexes for people who haven’t been boxing for a long time,” Ali said.
Boxing was banned by the Chinese Communists in the early 1950s after a young boxer was killed in the ring. The sport was revived about a year ago.