Leeds Imam calls for ‘peace park’ in tribute to boxing legend Muhammad Ali

Qari Asim at the Makkah Masjid Mosque. Picture: Simon Hulme.
Qari Asim at the Makkah Masjid Mosque. Picture: Simon Hulme.
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A LEEDS Imam is calling on the community to help set up a ‘peace park’ in memory of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.

Qari Asim, from Makkah Mosque in Leeds, met the boxer in 2009. Speaking to the YEP, he said: “I think a peace park is something that the city should be doing as a whole and the mosque and other communities can play a part too.

“It could be a huge statement for our young people in the city to see that if you work hard, you can achieve anything.

“Going forward, the park could be a place to celebrate different cultures, religions and people.”

He added: “Muhammad Ali was an icon of courage for so many people and we should have something to celebrate his life.

“Leeds is a sister city to Louisville, Kentucky, which is going to be the resting place of Muhammad Ali.

“I hope that we can find appropriate ways to celebrate his life and mark his passing.”

Speaking about his admiration for the boxing legend, he added: “Part of his greatness was his ability to be different things to different people. He belonged to everyone, and his impact transcends continents, backgrounds and languages.”

He added that the mosque is looking to talk to Leeds City Council about the idea.

The Makkah Mosque has already held a three-day exhibition showcasing some personal and rare items relating to the boxer, including a cheque that was signed by him.

A vigil service was also held and donations are being taken for the Muhammad Ali Centre.

MEETING MUHAMMAD ALI

Qari Asim met Muhammad Ali in 2009. He said: “I went up to him to shake his hand. Instead he offered me his classical sparring boxing move.

“After this brief and somewhat intimidating exchange, he held my hand in his soft and warm palms.

“He was remarkably humble and spoke with a gentle and loving voice.

“He was still very handsome and had great charisma, with a twinkle in his eye. I will cherish it for the rest of my life.”

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