Back in the day it was darn-near impossible to beat Muhammad Ali — but if L.A. City Councilman Kevin de LeÃ³n gets his way, everybody will soon be able to lick the champ.
De Leon on Friday introduced a resolution that would officially throw the city’s support behind the U.S. Postal Service issuing a commemorative stamp in honor of Ali, the legendary former heavyweight champ who, in fact, once joked, “I should be on a postage stamp. That’s the only way I’ll ever get licked.”
De LeÃ³n’s resolution — seconded by Councilmen Curran Price and Herb Wesson — got referred to the council’s Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee. If approved there, it would head to the full council sometime after the body returns from recess in late July.
“I was shocked to learn that the champ, Muhammad Ali, did not have a U.S. postage stamp,” de LeÃ³n told City News Service on Friday.
“Ali was a man of principle deeply rooted in his faith that led him to live a life founded on peace, humanitarianism and social justice. These are the attributes that make him an American hero and an ideal candidate to be honored with his own postage stamp.”
The resolution notes that “the U.S. Postal Service honors extraordinary individuals who have contributed to American society, history, culture or environment through the issuance of commemorative postage stamp,” and that “Muhammad Ali clearly has contributed to American society, history AND culture as a singular and renowned figure in and transcending sports, civil rights, peace, activism, freedom of thought and faith, global influence and humanitarianism.”
Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, won the 1960 Olympic gold medal as a light-heavyweight and was a three-time heavyweight champ before retiring in 1981 with a record of 56-5 with 37 knockouts.
His career was highlighted by three legendary bouts with Joe Frazier, including the “Thrilla in Manila,” and the “Rumble in the Jungle” in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1974, in which Ali dethroned then-champ George Foreman.
Ali was known worldwide as “The Greatest.”
He was just as well known for activism, refusing to be inducted into the U.S. Army in 1967 during the Vietnam War, citing his Muslim beliefs after converting to Islam and changing his name.
“I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong,” he famously said at the time.
Ali was convicted of draft evasion and stripped his title, but had the conviction overturned on appeal, allowing him to return to the ring in 1970.
“As a humanitarian, Ali fought against injustices for many disadvantaged groups of all backgrounds,” the City Council resolution says.
It adds, “As a world figure, Ali utilized his fame and influence to promote social change for the improvement of lives of all people,” and goes on to say, “as a thinker and a doer, Ali promoted confidence, dedication, respect and love for all people.”
If passed by the full council and signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, the resolution would include, in the city’s 2021-2022 Federal Legislative Program, official support for an Ali stamp, and would urge the USPS’ Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee to approve one.
Ali died June 3, 2016, at age 74.