Qatar’s ambassador to the United States inaugurated the newly-renovated “Muhammad Ali” park at the Islamic Center of Detroit (ICD) on Wednesday.
As a testament to the late American icon’s “enduring legacy”, the park is now open to the public following Qatar-funded renovations.
“I was honoured to inaugurate Muhammad Ali Park today in Dearborn, Michigan. The Islamic Center of Detroit is playing an incredible role in strengthening the community and this park is a testament to their success,” Sheikh Meshal Hamad AlThani, Qatar’s ambassador to the US said in a tweet.
The centre in Dearborn has served the Muslim and non-Muslim community for decades, providing millions of meals to the needy, Qatar’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“The Islamic Center in Detroit has achieved significant strides through its efforts in promoting understanding and appreciation for the unique blending of cultures and peoples who consider this center a gathering place for all,” the statement read.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan was among key officials at the opening ceremony. He praised Qatar’s support and said the naming of the park “serves as a testament to Ali’s enduring legacy.”
“He [Duggan] emphasised the importance of naming the park after boxing champion Muhammad Ali, highlighting Ali’s profound impact not only as a prominent boxer but also as a social advocate who used his influence to champion equality and justice,” the statement added.
Once an empty area, the park now boasts a children’s playground, a basketball court, a running and walking track, a football field, and a picnic area, the ICD said.
“As a religious institution, our reach expands far beyond District 7 alone. The recent influx of refugees has contributed greatly to the expanding need for green spaces to grow our vibrant community, thus making this project more important than ever,” the ICD explained.
An immortal legacy
The boxing legend’s legacy is one that has been widely described as “immortal”, with many generations growing up to be inspired by Ali years decades after he bid farewell to the boxing ring in 1981.
The late boxer continues to stand as an icon in the sports industry, with his famous phrase, “float like a butterfly sting like a bee”, echoing across the world even after his passing in 2016. Ali’s successful career saw him record 56 wins and five defeats.
Beyond sports, Ali stood as one of the most prominent Muslim icons following his conversion to Islam in 1964 while championing civil rights in the US, where endemic racism, especially towards Black people, has existed for decades.
Among his most notable stances was his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War in 1967, where the US massacred hundreds of Vietnamese civilians.
“No, I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over,” Ali said at the time.
In December, Doha News got a closer glimpse into Ali’s everlasting legacy by sitting down with the legend’s brother, Rahman Ali, during his visit to Qatar.
An emotional Rahman detailed the memories of his “angel” brother.