Wesson, Price endorse plan for Muhammad Ali stamp

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Wave Staff and Wire Report

LOS ANGELES — City Councilmen Curren Price and Herb Wesson are throwing their support behind a resolution in support of the U.S. Postal Service issuing a commemorative stamp in honor of boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

The resolution was introduced at the City Council’s July 1 meeting by Councilman Kevin de León. It was referred to the council’s Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee. If approved there, it would head to the full council sometime after the body returns from its summer recess in late July.

“I was shocked to learn that the champ, Muhammad Ali, did not have a U.S. postage stamp,” de León told City News Service July 1.

“Ali was a man of principle deeply rooted in his faith that led him to live a life founded on peace, humanitarianism and social justice. These are the attributes that make him an American hero and an ideal candidate to be honored with his own postage stamp.”

De León’s resolution — seconded by Price and Wesson — noted that “the U.S. Postal Service honors extraordinary individuals who have contributed to American society, history, culture or environment through the issuance of commemorative postage stamp,” and that “Muhammad Ali clearly has contributed to American society, history and culture as a singular and renowned figure in and transcending sports, civil rights, peace, activism, freedom of thought and faith, global influence and humanitarianism.”

Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, won the 1960 Olympic gold medal in Rome as a light-heavyweight and was a three-time heavyweight champ before retiring in 1981 with a record of 56-5 with 37 knockouts.

His career was highlighted by three legendary bouts with Joe Frazier, including the “Thrilla in Manila,” and the “Rumble in the Jungle” in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1974, in which Ali dethroned then-champ George Foreman.

Ali was known worldwide as “The Greatest.”

In 1999, Sports Illustrated named him the Sportsman of the Century and the BBC named him the Sports Personality of the Century.

He was just as well known for activism, refusing to be inducted into the U.S. Army in 1967 during the Vietnam War, citing his Muslim beliefs after converting to Islam and changing his name.

“I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong,” he famously said at the time.

Ali was convicted of draft evasion and stripped of his title, but had the conviction overturned on appeal, allowing him to return to the ring in 1970.

“As a humanitarian, Ali fought against injustices for many disadvantaged groups of all backgrounds,” the City Council resolution says.

It adds, “As a world figure, Ali utilized his fame and influence to promote social change for the improvement of lives of all people,” and goes on to say, “as a thinker and a doer, Ali promoted confidence, dedication, respect and love for all people.”

If passed by the full council and signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, the resolution would include, in the city’s 2021-2022 Federal Legislative Program, official support for an Ali stamp, and would urge the USPS’ Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee to approve one.

Ali died June 3, 2016, at age 74.

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