Muhammad Ali Takes on Supreme Leader of Iran, Asks Him to Release UC Hikers

Categories: Politics, Sports
Ali's a good fighter inside and outside the ring
Former boxing champ Muhammad Ali has instigated a new fight -- one aimed to get the release of two American hikers who have been held captive in Iran since 2009.

Ali, a prominent U.S. Muslim, sent to the Associated Press, a letter he wrote to Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in February. The letter asked Iranian leaders to release Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who were arrested while hiking in northern Iraq near the Iranian border. They are being held on spy charges.

"Please show the world the compassion I know you have in your heart," he wrote in the letter.

Media outlets are reporting that Ali's wife, Lonnie Ali, told the AP in a telephone interview from their Arizona home that the late John Arum, son of boxing promoter Bob Arum, had asked her husband to intervene.

John Arum, who was also a hiker, died on Storm King Mountain in Washington not long after he had asked Ali for help.

Lonnie Ali told reporters that her husband has gone to Iran on two other occasions; one trip was in the early 1990s when he tried to help get the release of American prisoners during the Iran-Iraq war.

But would the sports icon be willing to make another trip back to Iran? The 69-year-old Ali suffers from Parkison's Disease which has has limited his speech and movement.

"Life is sacred; we just want to make sure Muhammad is physically up to such a trip," Lonnie Ali said.

Then again, Ali likes a good fight.

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