Former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammed Ali told journalists in Beirut on Tuesday (II January) why he was touring Arab countries to raise money for a mosque in the United States.
MV & CU INT Press in conference room (2 shots)
SCU Mohammed Ali speaks. "Since the Islamic...." "...help and support."
CU Ali speaks "We might have to cancel..." "...in the world."
ALI: "Since the Islamic faith has got me so much warm attention in places that boxers don't even go, like Mecca, Medina, (INDISTINCT) and down in Abu Dhabi and on to Libya. They don't follow boxing, no American boxer's ever been acclaimed so by these people. I even watched. They all told me that. Since I've accepted the name Muhammed Ali from my religious leader, the honourable Elijah Mohammed, and an Islamic faith, I guess I've gained about 700 more million followers. I just want to repay, I would say, the teachings that I've received by helping to build that. Like for example, America helps many countries, I would say, that believe different from them, and many people of different religions and power structures help people of other nations. And since we're considered baby Moslems compared to those in the root of Islam, Arabia, and we just figured, or I just figured I could go over there and probably let them know what we're trying to do and probably we'll get a little help and support."
"We might have to cancel training there in Switzerland because the promoters there haven't given me my money yet. Half of the money that I was to make for fighting Jurgen Blin, they haven't paid me yet. They're having some kind of tie-up and if they don't come through with that, then in Switzerland we'll miss the opportunity of saying that I trained there for the biggest fight in the world."
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Background: Former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammed Ali told journalists in Beirut on Tuesday (II January) why he was touring Arab countries to raise money for a mosque in the United States. He was, he explained, trying to repay Islam for the teachings he had received. Through being a Moslem, he had gained about 700 million more followers, he said.
Muhammed Ali's trip has already included visits to Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain encompassing talks with officials and an exhibition bout. Further appearances in Libya and Egypt are on his agenda.
Ali, who hopes for a return bout against reigning title-holder Joe Frazier, who out-pointed him in New York last March, described it as "the biggest fight in the world".