Did Muhammad Ali really take issue with Donald Trump and his controversial plan to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the United States?

At issue is a statement released by the boxing legend (see below for full transcript) shortly after the San Bernardino terrorist attack titled, “Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States.” At the time, it was widely reported as directed at Donald Trump although it didn’t mention him by name.

For example, from NBC News:

But the real target of Ali’s roundhouse was Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The statement never mentions Trump by name — but its headline is “Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States.”

And the New York Times:

Muhammad Ali Defends Islam After Trump’s Proposal to Bar Foreign Muslims

This statement is, predictably so, getting a lot of attention in the wake of Ali’s death on Friday. But it turns out, despite its title, Ali was allegedly referring to Islamic extremists and not any particular presidential candidate:

From the New York Times:

Bob Gunnell, an Ali family spokesman, also said on Saturday that the statement was not directed at Mr. Trump, but at “extremists and jihadists.”

“Muhammad made that clear to me, personally,” Mr. Gunnell said, adding that Ali and his wife, Lonnie, had called him after the statement was issued to make the point that, “We are for all people.”

Mr. Gunnell also said Ali wasn’t offended by this tweet from Trump questioning President Obama’s comments on Muslim sports heroes in America:

From the New York Times:

Mr. Gunnell said Ali had not been concerned with what Mr. Trump said on Twitter.

“Muhammad was the greatest,” Mr. Gunnell said. “So, Donald Trump mistakenly spoke because he knows who the greatest is and who the greatest was. When he tweeted that, it never came up. Muhammad never in a million years would have thought that was directed at him.”

Time to move along, liberals, and find a new line of attack on the GOP nominee.


Full statement from Ali issued to NBC News:

I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world. True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.

We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda. They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody.

Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is.