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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Five things to see at Qatar’s new Muhammad Ali exhibition


Muhammad Ali exhibition
Muhammad Ali exhibition

A new temporary exhibition that pays tribute to late American boxing legend and activist Muhammed Ali will open at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) on Thursday.

According to organizers, “Muhammad Ali: Tribute to a Legend,” is the first exhibition of its kind to go on display since the boxer’s death last month.

It was curated by Qatar Museums and Qatar’s upcoming 3-2-1 Olympic and Sports Museum.

Muhammad Ali exhibition
Muhammad Ali exhibition

The collection of artifacts is located on the MIA’s fourth floor eastern gallery and includes signed items from the boxer, as well as memorabilia from various points in his career.

The media got a sneak peek of the exhibit earlier this week. Here are five things we recommend you check out when it opens:

Footage from Ali’s trip to Qatar

In 1971, Ali participated in an outdoor exhibition bout in Qatar at a local stadium that drew massive crowds, according to photos on display of the event.

The trip was a significant one for Ali, who told attendees after the match, “I didn’t know I had so many followers in this part of the world.”

Muhammad Ali exhibition
Muhammad Ali exhibition

According to footage of the event that is being shown at MIA, he added:

“Seeing how many Muslims I have in my corner, this will give me more strength and power inshAllah (God-willing) to defeat Joe Frasier, no trouble.”

Boxing Gloves

Muhammed Ali was wearing these gloves when he beat Sonny Liston in a surprise upset to become the World Heavyweight Champion.

Muhammad Ali exhibition
Muhammad Ali exhibition

This fight was among the most significant ones in the sport’s history, largely because many commentators didn’t think the then 22-year-old Ali would survive past the first round.

He won when Liston gave up during the opening of the seventh round, and changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali directly after the bout. The fight was held in February 1964 in Miami Beach, Florida.

Letter refusing to fight in Vietnam

On Aug. 23, Muhammed Ali sent a letter to the US National Director of Selective Services demanding exemption from the Vietnam War.

In the note, written two years after converting to Islam, he objected to fighting based on religious grounds, saying he was a “minister of religion.”

Muhammad Ali exhibition
Muhammad Ali exhibition

The refusal caused Ali to be temporarily arrested, banned from boxing and stripped of his world title from 1966 to 1971, when his conviction was overturned on appeal.

He returned to boxing in 1970, and fought an exhibition bout in Doha a year later. QM said the original letter is on loan for the exhibit.

Superman vs Ali comic book

Published by DC Comics in 1978, this 72-page comic book features a boxing match between the two heroes on another planet. Ali knocks Superman out, but the two eventually team up to defeat an alien invasion of Earth.

Muhammad Ali exhibition
Muhammad Ali exhibition

The book ends with the two champions hugging and Ali saying, “Superman, we are the greatest!” This particular copy was autographed by Muhammad Ali in black marker.

The champ’s ring

This ring was awarded to Ali after defeating Leon Spinks at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orlean in 1978, in his final world title winning fight.

Muhammad Ali exhibition
Muhammad Ali exhibition

This was a rematch between the two boxers, after Spinks beat Ali earlier in the year.

The victory over the athlete marked the third time Ali won the world heavyweight boxing title, making him the first fighter ever to do so.

Opening hours

Speaking to Doha News, head of conservation at 3-2-1 Qatar Olympics and Sports Museum Susan Rees said that an exhibition dedicated to Muhammed Ali was planned a long time ago.

However, its opening had to be rushed due to his recent death, she added:

“It was very difficult to do all that last minute, including the research, the design and everything else. That usually takes a year in advance of planning, but we had to do it in only four weeks.”

The MIA will be closed on the first day of Eid and resume normal operating hours after that: Open Sunday, Monday and Wednesday from 10:30am to 5pm; Thursday from noon to 8pm; Friday from 2pm to 8pm; Saturday from noon to 8pm; and closed Tuesdays.

Who’s going? Thoughts?

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