The son of three-time heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali was detained by U.S. border officials at a Florida airport earlier this month and repeatedly questioned about his faith in what a family friend says amounted to unconstitutional profiling.
Upon their return from a Black History Month event in Jamaica, 44-year-old Muhammad Ali Jr. and his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, were pulled aside by border officials and separated at an immigration checkpoint at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7, according to family friend and attorney Chris Mancini. Ali Jr. was reportedly held for about two hours, despite telling officials he was the boxing champion’s son and a natural-born U.S. citizen.
Mancini said Camacho-Ali was released soon after she showed a photo of herself and her ex-husband, the late heavyweight boxer, to border officials. However, Ali Jr., who confirmed his Muslim faith, did not have a photo of his world-famous dad on him at the time.
Officials repeatedly questioned Ali about his faith and lineage, asking “Are you Muslim?” and “Where did you get your name from?” the Florida attorney said. However, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection maintained that the legendary boxer’s son was not detained because of his religion or “Arabic-sounding name.”