Muhammad Ali Jr., the son of the late boxing icon Muhammad Ali, told The New York Post in an hour-long interview that his father wouldn’t have supported the Black Lives Matter movement, calling it “racist.”
Ali, who died aged 74 in 2016 as a result of complications of Parkinson’s disease, was a known activist who in 1964 joined the Nation of Islam.
Ali Jr. said he believed his father would’ve supported the “all lives matter” movement, and thought the legendary boxer would’ve believed current protestors were “nothing but devils” after some demonstrations have turned destructive.
He said he supported President Trump and believed his father would have, too.
Muhammad Ali Jr. said he did not believe his father would have supported the current Black Lives Matter movement, calling participants in the movement “racist,” The New York Post reported Saturday.
“I think it’s racist,” Ali Jr., the legendary boxer’s only biological son whose relationship with his father “completely fell apart” in the final decade of his life, said, according to the report.
He added: “It’s not just Black lives matter, white lives matter, Chinese lives matter, all lives matter, everybody’s life matters. God loves everyone — he never singled anyone out. Killing is wrong no matter who it is.”
”My father would have said, ‘They ain’t nothing but devils,” Ali Jr, 47, told The New York Post. “My father said, ‘all lives matter.’ I don’t think he’d agree.”
Ali Jr. pointed toward some of the more destructive actions of some protestors in recent weeks as part of his own dissatisfaction with the Black Lives Matter movement. While some protests — particularly early on — turned destructive, many of the still ongoing demonstrations have remained peaceful.
“Black Lives Matter is not a peaceful protest. Antifa never wanted it peaceful. I would take them all out,” Ali Jr. said.
“It’s a racial statement,” he said of Black Lives Matter. “It’s pitting black people against everyone else. It starts racial things to happen; I hate that.”
In 2016, Ali’s most famous child, television personality and retired boxer Laila Ali, made similar statement, saying, “All lives matter.”
“Yes, Black lives matter. Yes, white lives matter, asian lives matter. All lives matter,” the boxing world champion said. “And that’s kind of what my focus is.”
On Wednesday, Ali told KTLA she thought it was a “shame” that Black Americans were still fighting to secure the same things her father supported.
“His grandsons are even having to fight two generations later, but we’re going to keep at it because it’s all about equality for Black people and all people,” she said.
Nationwide protests against police brutality began following the police killing of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis. A since-fired police officer was recorded kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes while he said he couldn’t breathe and even after he lost consciousness. Three other officers have also been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department. All four have been charged for their involvement.
“Don’t bust up s–t, don’t trash the place,” Ali Jr. told The Post. “You can peacefully protest.”
As NPR noted, his father, the legendary late boxer often nicknamed “The Greatest,” was a known activist, notably making headlines in 1967 for his refusal to be inducted into the U.S. Army in 1967 citing his opposition to the Vietnam War, his religious beliefs, and his identity as a Black Muslim.
In 1964, Ali, born Cassius Clay, joined the Nation of Islam under the guidance of his spiritual leader Malcolm X and changed his name to Muhammad Ali to rid himself of his “slave name.”
In an hour-long interview with the news outlet, Ali Jr. defended the police and said they “don’t wake up and think, ‘I’m going to kill a n—-r today or kill a white man.”
“I never had a bad scene with a cop. They’ve always been nice and protect me. I don’t have a problem with them,” he told The New York Post.
While he said the former Minneapolis Police Officer should not have killed Floyd, he said there was more to the story.
“The officer was wrong with killing that person, but people don’t realize there was more footage than what they showed. The guy resisted arrest, the officer was doing his job, but he used the wrong tactic,” he said, adding he believed that antifa, the leaderless decentralized group of left-wing activists, had been responsible for turning protests violent and that he agreed with the president that they should be classified as terrorist groups.
Ali Jr. said he believed his father would have supported President Trump.