Muhammad Ali’s son and ex-wife are launching a religious freedom campaign called “Step Into the Ring,” which they plan to aim directly at Donald Trump and his travel ban.
Muhammad Ali Jr. and his mother, Khalilah Camacho Ali, decided to declare a “showdown” against the president after they were detained by immigration officials in a Florida airport in February. Democrats have invited Ali Jr. and his mother to participate in a forum organized by members of the House subcommittee on border security on Thursday, the Associated Press reports.
The Alis are asking for support from former boxing greats Evander Holyfield, Larry Holmes and Roberto Duran to join “Step Into the Ring.” Together they plan to use the campaign as a direct fight against the president, using the hashtag #AlivsTrump.
Ali Jr. and the legendary boxer’s ex-wife were returning from a Black History Month event in Jamaica in early February when they were detained and questioned in Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The Alis believe immigration officials targeted them because they are Muslim and have Muslim names. A spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed that Ali Jr. was detained, but not on the basis of his name nor religion, the AP reports.
“There shouldn’t be a travel ban,” Khalilah Camacho Ali said. “If I don’t speak up now, they’re going to keep harassing us.”
“I’m paranoid. I’m just waiting for somebody to mess with me. That’s not a good feeling when you have to travel,” she added.
The late boxer’s ex-wife, who was born and raised Muslim, claims she has always fought for religious freedoms, and said she used to push her former husband to use his platform as a boxer to do the same.
“We, as a family, have been fighting this for a very long time,” she said. “We are going to continue to fight for religious justice.”
Trump signed an executive order to put his first travel ban in place a week into his presidency. The original order was met with significant backlash after it caused chaos at airports across the United States. The ban has now been revised and will go into effect on March 16.
Although the Alis are making a point to fight Trump directly, the president has voiced his admiration for Muhammad Ali in the past.
When the boxing great passed away of Parkinson’s disease in June, Trump referred to him as a “truly great champion.” Trump also visited the Ali exhibit when he toured the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington shortly after his inauguration.