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There is “a battle for memory” over the life of Muhammad Ali, as the corporate media tries to rewrite the story of “the staunch opponent of US imperialism and US interventionism worldwide,” said historian Gerald Horne.

With former president Bill Clinton, comedian Billy Crystal, and former Today Show host Bryan Gumbel scheduled to speak at Ali’s funeral, Horne is concerned that the elite will leave out the iconic boxer’s opposition to the Vietnam War and reduce his legacy to “pablum” for the general public.

In 1967, Ali was stripped of his boxing license and passport after refusing to serve in the military. The U.S. Supreme Court would overturn a 5-year prison sentence in 1971.

He would reclaim the world championship title in 1974 during an epic fight with George Foreman.

Horne speculates that Ali’s signature “rope-a-dope” strategy, which allowed an opponent to throw repeated punches in order to lead to exhaustion, contributed to Ali’s later development of Parkinson’s disease.

Muhammad Ali died on June 3rd.

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Dr. Gerald Horne holds the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston. His research has addressed issues of racism in a variety of relations involving labor, politics, civil rights, international relations and war. Dr. Horne has also written extensively about the film industry. His latest book is The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America. Dr. Horne received his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and his B.A. from Princeton University.