Muhammad Ali, Titan of Boxing and the 20th Century, Dies at 74

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Muhammad Ali, the three-time world heavyweight boxing champion who helped define his turbulent times as the most charismatic and controversial sports figure of the 20th century, died on Friday. He was 74.

His death was confirmed by Bob Gunnell, a family spokesman.

Ali was the most thrilling if not the best heavyweight ever, carrying into the ring a physically lyrical, unorthodox boxing style that fused speed, agility and power more seamlessly than that of any fighter before him.

But he was more than the sum of his athletic gifts. An agile mind, a buoyant personality, a brash self-confidence and an evolving set of personal convictions fostered a magnetism that the ring alone could not contain. He entertained as much with his mouth as with his fists, narrating his life with a patter of inventive doggerel. (“Me! Wheeeeee!”)

Ali was as polarizing a superstar as the sports world has ever produced — both admired and vilified in the 1960s and ’70s for his religious, political and social stances. His refusal to be drafted during the Vietnam War, his rejection of racial integration at the height of the civil rights movement, his conversion from Christianity to Islam and the changing of his “slave” name, Cassius Clay, to one bestowed by the separatist black sect he joined, the Lost-Found Nation of Islam, were perceived as serious threats by the conservative establishment and noble acts of defiance by the liberal opposition.

Loved or hated, he remained for 50 years one of the most recognizable people on the planet.

Segregation Linked in Study With Lung Cancer Deaths

NYT2008112512091880CAfrican-Americans who live in highly segregated counties are considerably more likely to die from lung cancer than those in counties that are less segregated, a new study has found. The study was the first to look at segregation as a factor in lung cancer mortality. Its authors said they could not fully explain why it worsens the odds of survival for African-Americans, but hypothesized that blacks in more segregated areas may be less likely to have health insurance or access to health care and specialty doctors. It is also possible that lower levels of education mean they are less likely to seek care early, when medical treatment could make a big difference. Racial bias in the health care system might also be a factor. “If you want to learn about someone’s health, follow him home,” said Dr. Awori J. Hayanga, a heart and lung surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who was the lead author of the study. The study, published in JAMA Surgery on Wednesday, divided all counties in the country into three levels of segregation: high, medium and low. It found that lung cancer mortality rates, a ratio of deaths to a population, were about 20 percent higher for blacks who lived in the most segregated counties, than for blacks living in the least segregated counties. Lung cancer is the top cause of preventable death in the United States. Blacks have the highest incidence of it and are also more likely to die from it. For every million black males, 860 will die from lung cancer, compared with 620 among every million white males. The rates were calculated over the period of the study, from 2003 to 2007.

The study drew on federal mortality data from that period, and segregation data from about a third of United States counties that had African-American populations large enough to measure. About 28 percent of Americans live in counties with low segregation, 40 percent in counties with moderate segregation and 32 percent in counties with high segregation. The gap in outcomes persisted even after accounting for differences in smoking rates and socio-economic status, Dr. Hayanga said. For whites, high levels of segregation had the opposite effect, a finding that surprised the authors. Whites who lived in highly segregated counties had about 6 percent lower mortality rates from lung cancer than those who lived in the least segregated counties, though researchers pointed out that the difference was slight enough that it was not clear whether it was meaningful. Dr. David Chang, director of outcomes research at the University of California San Diego Department of Surgery, who wrote an accompanying editorial, said he hoped that the study would focus attention on the environmental factors involved in the stark disparities in health outcomes in the United States because they lend themselves to change through policy. Medical researchers tend to focus on factors that are harder to change, like thegenetics and the behaviors of individuals.

“We don’t need drugs or genetic explanations to fix a lot of the health care problems we have,” he said.

POWER 100 GALA COUNTDOWN!

Power is many things—strength, focus, commitment, determination. Power is innovation. Power is elevation. Power is about shaping the world in new and different ways. This is why we can barely contain our excitement about the The 2012 EBONY Power 100! In a matter of days, in New York City, EBONY magazine will recognize the very best of the very best in Black America at an intimate inaugural celebration — The EBONY Power 100 Gala. With your help we have determined who among us has really done the work, those leaders in a number of exciting fields who have truly pushed the needle forward.

We’d like to send out a huge thank you to our 2012 EBONY Power 100 Gala sponsors, all of whom are committed to celebrating Black excellence. We’ll see you in New York!

All winners will be revealed in the Dec 2012/Jan 2013 issue of EBONY!

Recovery Barely Reaches Blacks

In a report released on Thursday by liberal think-tank, The Center for American Progress, African Americans were found to have benefited the least from the economic recovery that began in 2009. The group analyzed unemployment rates, homeowners numbers, and even the amount of Black folks with health insurance to reach their conclusion.”While economic opportunities are beginning to improve somewhat for Latinos, Asian-Americans, and whites, African-Americans are the clear exception–their economic fortunes continued to decline in 2011,” the report says. Existing issues, such as the lack of health insurance coverage, actually widened in the past two years.

Read it at The Grio.