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Ackermann, Rod

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland | 17/01/2012

Muhammad Ali ahead of his time

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali celebrates his 70th birthday today. Ali made a name for himself among other things with his political outspokenness, which would be impossible today, the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung remarks: "Today the norms of political correctness, of highly paid good behaviour, reign supreme in the world of top sports, and there are few exceptions. ... Given all the correctness one seeks in vain for an outstanding US athlete who - in a variation on Ali's legendary statement 'I got nothing against no Viet Cong' - would say openly and loudly that he has nothing against the Taliban. Similarly futile is the search for someone so skilled at turning his sport into a show and his show into a sport. In this respect Ali, as a genius of entertainment, blurred borders that no one even knows nowadays. Following the principle that the truth may always be spoken as long as it makes the audience laugh, he said openly what many only dared to think. His unstoppable flow of words was the world's very first rap, and he was ahead of his time."

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