July 21, 2023

Reps. Morgan McGarvey and Gregory Meeks Lead Congressional Colleagues in Calling for Creation of Muhammad Ali Postage Stamp

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 21, 2023) – Today, Congressman Morgan McGarvey (KY-03) and Congressman Gregory Meeks (NY-05) led their Congressional colleagues in sending a letter to the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee calling for the creation of a Muhammad Ali postage stamp. The letter highlights Muhammad Ali’s accomplishments both inside and out of the boxing ring and recognizes his contributions to justice and progress in the United States. 

“Muhammad Ali is an inspiration to generations of Louisvillians and Americans,” said Rep. McGarvey. “I’m proud to honor his legacy and work alongside my colleagues to have his image on a postage stamp. From his accomplishments in the boxing ring to his global humanitarian work, Muhammad Ali’s steadfast commitment to advancing civil and human rights makes him more than deserving of this recognition. It’s high time we get the champ a stamp.”

“Muhammad Ali's life journey was an embodiment of courage, conviction, and determination," said Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05). “A postage stamp honoring his remarkable legacy would immortalize a man who fought not only opponents in the ring but also the injustices of his time. Let us unite in recognizing the unparalleled contributions of Muhammad Ali, a true champion for civil rights, peace, and equality. Through a stamp, we can send his message of inspiration to every corner of the world, ensuring that his spirit continues to ignite hearts and minds for generations to come. In the great words of Mr. Ali himself, ‘I should be a postage stamp, because that's the only way I'll ever get licked.’”

“During his lifetime, my husband was one of the most recognized and beloved individuals on the planet,” said Muhammad’s wife, Lonnie Ali. “As an athlete, social justice activist, and humanitarian, he touched people on a personal basis, and inspired literally millions to do better, and to be better.  Muhammad was always humbled by all the attention, and he would be humbled today to know that so many people and organizations around the country are supportive of having his image appear on a U.S. Postal Service stamp. I am especially appreciative for Congressman McGarvey’s support, as Muhammad was always proud to hail from Louisville, Kentucky.”

The letter was signed by Reps. Gregory Meeks (NY-05), André Carson (IN-07), Troy Carter (LA-02), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Jim Clyburn (SC-06), Al Green (TX-09), Steven Horsford (NV-04), Glenn Ivey (MD-04), Jonathan Jackson (IL-01), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Robin Kelly (IL-02), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Gwen Moore (WI-04) Eleanor Holmes Norton (DEL-DC), Donald Payne (NJ-10), Bennie Thompson (MS-02), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) Nikema Williams (GA-05), and Frederica Wilson (FL-24). The full text of the letter is below: 

We write today to express our support for the creation of a postage stamp commemorating the extraordinary life and accomplishments of Muhammad Ali. The greatest heavyweight boxer in history and most celebrated sportsman of the 20th century, Ali’s accomplishments in the ring were surpassed only by his role as a champion for civil rights, peace, and equality, and we believe they merit this recognition. 

Born Cassius Clay in Louisville’s Smoketown neighborhood, Ali began boxing at age 12 after his brand new bike was stolen. With lightning quick feet and fists, the Louisville Lip took Olympic gold at the 1960 games in Rome, won the world heavyweight title at the age of 22, and – after a three year absence from boxing – took part in the greatest boxing matches of boxing’s greatest age. His accomplishments in the ring are well documented and recognized. Not just the greatest heavyweight of all time, or greatest boxer of all time, Sports Illustrated named him the Sportsman of the Century in 1999, and the same year, the BBC called him the Sports Personality of the Century. He was, and is, The Greatest. 

Ali’s dominance inside the ring was matched only by his reach outside the ring. When he was drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, Ali asserted a conscientious objection—citing his conversion to Islam and the injustice he observed against Black Americans during the Civil Rights Movement. His protest, which preceded the anti-war sentiment that eventually swept the nation, cost him the prime of his career, which was only revived after the Supreme Court sided with him unanimously three years later. But he never threw in the towel; his fidelity to his beliefs inspired the most influential Black athletes of his time to stand with him and put their careers at risk during the now-iconic Cleveland Summit—cementing the influence of athletes in combatting social injustice.

In the face of Jim Crow segregation, Ali rose as a beacon of hope for the future. After becoming heavyweight champion, Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali, meaning beloved of God, to demonstrate his convictions about racial injustice. During his exile from boxing, Ali gave rousing speeches at college campuses across the nation, encouraging them to roll with the punches as they called for an end to the Vietnam War and to white supremacy. He visited Chicago the summer after the West Side uprising of 1966 and started amateur boxing leagues to keep at-risk Black youth out of harm’s way. After Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Ali spoke to the Poor People’s March on Washington in 1968 during their stop-over in Louisville, encouraging them to persevere on their journey to the nation’s capital in Dr. King’s honor.

In addition to his civils rights activism, Ali was a staunch advocate for people suffering from degenerative brain diseases. Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in the early 1980s and lived with the disease for almost half his life, but his spirit was never on the ropes. Along with his wife, Lonnie, Muhammed opened the Muhammed Ali Parkinson Center in Phoenix to serve as a hub for people suffering from the disease and advocated for increased Parkinson’s research funding in Congress. His indomitable will and magnetic personality showed the nation and the world how to live a fulfilling life after a Parkinson’s diagnosis. In 2005, Muhammed and Lonnie Ali also co-founded the Muhammed Ali Center in their hometown of Louisville to carry his legacy and continue inspiring people for generations to come.

Muhammed Ali is an icon of Louisville, our country, and the world. His unparalleled contributions to civil rights, sports, and culture cannot be overstated. A man of many notable quips, Ali once aptly stated, "I should be a postage stamp. That's the only way I'll ever get licked." We could not agree more. It’s far past time that we get the Champ a stamp. Thank you for your consideration to our request.