Who, in the wild world of sports, speaks out for peace and social justice in the way that Muhammad Ali once did? After all, this is the age of Nike endorsements and globalization, not protest.

Well, did you hear about the former Argentine soccer star who is speaking out against the Free Trade Area of the Americas? You probably did because it was in the news this past weekend.

From the BBC:

[Ex-soccer star Diego Maradona] “has become the unlikely champion of the anti-American demonstrations being held around the Summit of the Americas that George Bush has been attending.

Maradona presents a hit television show and the latest edition features an interview with the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, berating the United States and supporting Maradona and Argentina in their efforts to combat pressure from the US for more free trade and help in the war against terrorism.”

Maybe you also heard about the pro basketball player, Etan Thomas of the Washington Wizards, who spoke out in September in the televised aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?

“Giving all honor, thanks and praises to God for courage and wisdom, this is a very important rally. I’d like to thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts, feelings and concerns regarding a tremendous problem that we are currently facing. This problem is universal, transcending race, economic background, religion, and culture, and this problem is none other than the current administration which has set up shop in the White House….

They keep telling us all is equal. I’d tell them that instead of giving tax breaks to the rich, financing corporate mergers and leading us into unnecessary wars and under-table dealings with Enron and Halliburton, maybe they can work on making society more peaceful. Instead, they take more and more money out of inner city schools, give up on the idea of rehabilitation and build more prisons for poor people. With unemployment continuing to rise like a deficit, it’s no wonder why so many think that crime pays.

Read the whole thing, it’s great.

Finally, and this is a bit older, did you know about the major league baseball player who has been protesting the war in Iraq?

Ron Borges, MSNBC, July 22, 2004:

[Then-Toronto First baseman Carlos] Delgado is the leading anti-war activist in major league baseball. He actually has thought about the U.S. invasion of Iraq and come to the conclusion that more and more Americans and more than a few shame-faced politicians finally have come to as well.

“I think it’s the stupidest war ever,” the Blue Jays’ power-hitting first baseman told the Toronto Star earlier this month

Delgado says he is “Not pro-war. I’m anti-war. I’m for peace.”

The Muhammad Ali Center will be opening in Louisville, KY, November 20, 2005. “The Ali Center will reach beyond four walls to promote respect, hope and understanding and motivate visitors to pursue their own paths to greatness.”

Filed as:

Share