Leading up to the first Gulf War between the United States and Iraq, Saddam Hussein army invaded Kuwait. After rolling into the small port country, the Iraqi army took 15 Americans hostage, sparking, already, incredible tensions between the two countries.
As the story goes, Hussein was using the prisoners as human shields, hoping that it would deter the US from invading. For four months, the prisoners sat in Iraqi jails. Then, struck the time that Muhammad Ali set out to negotiate their return.
Upon arriving in Iraq, Ali began talking with the locals. He continued to socialize with everyone he met, so the story goes, yet Hussein refused to see him.
A full week went by, as Ali waited for an audience. His Parkinson’s medication ran out and he was suffering (He was in his 6th year of facing the disease).
Perhaps when all hope seemed lost, Ali persisted and, eventually, Hussein decided to see him. The two hit it off and at the end of the struggle, the prisoners were released.
They hailed Ali as a hero, thanking him for saving their lives. Ali’s response? Thank God, for he works through us all.
It is an undersold tale near the dusk of the Great One’s life. Though the countries did go to war, the hostages were saved and their thanks were captured on video. The entire event is a testament to what one person can accomplish when driven.