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Available Expert - Funeral of Muhammad Ali and passing of Gordie Howe

Friday, June 10, 2016

Queen's University sports historian Geoffrey Smith is available to comment today on the funeral of Muhammad Ali and the passing of hockey legend Gordie Howe.

Tens of thousands are expected to attend the service being held today for boxing great Muhammad Ali, who passed away last week at the age of 74. Remembered for his tenacity inside the ring, the man born Cassius Clay was also seen as a major figure in the civil rights struggles of the day.

"The death of Muhammad Ali marks a milestone  in sport generally, and race relations within sport in particular," says Dr. Smith.  "Teaching sport history and sociology, I found Ali's career to be a perfect foil for the entire story of black athletes in the 20th century.  Ali began as a hero when, as Casssius Clay, he won gold in the 1960 Olympics.  Then he became conroversial, a pariah to some and hero to others, as he took exception to the Vietnam War and accepted jail rather than serve in the military in what he deemed an unjust war.  Ali is complicated in his legacy, incorporating so much that educated people should appreciate of the travails black athletes have faced. Ali remains my personal hero, a mix of "bad" and "good," but above all, and always, himself."

Dr. Smith is also available to comment on the passing of Gordie Howe and the impact he had on the sport of hockey. Nicknamed 'Mr. Hockey,' Howe played an unparalleled 33 professional seasons, breaking into the pro ranks in 1945 as a teenager with the Omaha Knights of the United Hockey League and skating a final shift for the Detroit Vipers of the International Hockey League in 1997 at the age of 69. Howe died earlier this morning at the age of 88.

To arrange an interview, please contact communications officer Chris Armes (613-533-6000 ext. 77513 or chris.armes@queensu.ca) at Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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