Fans mourned the passing of Muhammad Ali this weekend, after “The Greatest” passed away on Friday at the age of 74. Millions took to social media over the weekend to share memories of Ali and share the impact he had on their lives — but not everyone was mourning the boxing icon.
In a series of since-deleted tweets, Martin Daniel, a Tennessee state representative from Knoxville, called out Ali for failing to enlist in the Army after being drafted in 1966. He also referred to Ali by his birth name Cassius Clay, a name that Ali described as his “slave name.”
Refusing to call Muhammad Ali by his chosen name reveals more about Martin Daniel's character than he intended. pic.twitter.com/63Bz8VbgQ1
— Connie Schultz (@ConnieSchultz) June 5, 2016
Later, Daniel called out Ali on his “love for the Nation of Islam,” an organization that the boxer denounced in 1975.
Rep. Martin Daniel tried to delete this Tweet but sorry, screen shots are a thing now buddy: pic.twitter.com/PzFhNFIE3r
— Lisa (@Litzz11) June 5, 2016
Ali famously refused to enlist in the Army after being drafted, giving up the heavyweight title and three years of his career to oppose what he felt was an unjust war. A five-year prison sentence and $10,000 fine was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1971.
Talk show host Piers Morgan also created controversy with a tweet that compared the boxer to GOP front runner Donald Trump.
Muhammad Ali said far more inflammatory/racist things about white people than Donald Trump ever has about Muslims. #fact
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 5, 2016
He later explained his thoughts about Ali in a Daily Mail column headlined “Ali taught us to dream, to dare and to fight for what we believe in. That's why he's The Greatest.”
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.