Muhammad Ali’s endorsement of Ronald Regan in his 1984 re-election did not come quickly, and it wasn’t expected, according to Harvard Assistant Professor Leah Wright Rigueur’s article in The Washington Post.
The two didn’t start off on the best foot when, in 1970, Gov. Reagan denied an attempt to get Ali his California boxing license back after he refused to register for the draft. Reagan tried to make good two years later with Ali’s promoter, but to no avail. In the 1980 presidential campaign, Ali’s endorsement went to Jimmy Carter instead of Reagan.
But then 1984 rolled around. It’s reported that Ali had been taking medication to stabilize himself in light of his Parkinson’s disease, and it was working. He also left the Nation of Islam. Then to top it all off, he gave an unexpected endorsement for Reagan. In his words, “Wallace Muhammad, the leader of all Muslims, says Reagan is our man.”
This statement did a number of things.
First, Reagan’s campaign went to town with promoting their most recent endorsement. Also, most African-Americans were not pleased. And lastly, it was assumed that Ali was still unstable and didn’t know what he was doing.
But Ali still endorsed Reagan for deeper reasons that we still don’t fully understand.
Read more on The Washington Post.