By Hubert Walker for CoinWeek ….
On January 13, a bill to commemorate the achievements–both in and out of the ring–of American boxing legend Muhammad Ali was introduced in the 115th Congress of the United States, which runs from January 3, 2017 through January 3, 2019. Identical bills were proposed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate; H.R. 579 was introduced by Representative Jon Yarmuth, a Democrat representing Kentucky’s Third District, while Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced S. 166 in the Senate.
Muhammad Ali (formerly Cassius Clay) was born in Louisville, which is in Yarmuth’s district.
After winning the light heavyweight gold medal at the age of 18 in the 1960 Rome Olympics, Clay turned professional and within a few years had won several heavyweight titles. His brash, confident and cocky persona was entertaining to many, offensive to some and inspiring to a generation of black youth in America. Never afraid to court controversy, Clay converted to Islam (changing his name to Muhammad Ali in the process) and refused to serve in Vietnam. Famous matches against several rival boxers, including Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier and George Foreman–legends in their own rights–are important touchstones of American sport in the 20th century.
He even beat Superman in the pages of a DC Comic.
His position as a role model for African-American pride only grew in the decades after his retirement. Muhammad Ali died in 2016 after a long battle with Parkinson’s.
The bill authorizes the production of a maximum of 100,000 $5 gold coins and a maximum of 350,000 silver dollars. Both precious metal coins would be required to meet a minimum purity of 90%. In addition to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC)–which fellow legendary American athlete Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recently joined as a member representing the interests of the public–the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville would be consulted as to the design of the coins.
Typical surcharges of $35 per gold coin and $10 per silver dollar would go to the Muhammad Ali Center, the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center, and the Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of Louisville.
Proof and Uncirculated versions of the coins would be produced.
The Senate bill is cosponsored by Cory Booker (D-NJ). The House bill is currently cosponsored by David Schweikert (R-AZ6); Muhammad Ali was an Arizona resident at the time of his death.
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