Hamilton names the greatest sporting icon in history

Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates in parc ferme.
© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton has revealed his top pick as sport's greatest icon, a man who is also the six-time world champion's personal hero.

On the first day of Black History Month, Hamilton was polled by the The Sun along with other black personalities who were asked to name a black individual they have particularly admired in their life or who has inspired them.

Hamilton's choice is not only one of the greatest boxers and athletes of all-time but also a character regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated figures of the 20th century.

"I believe Muhammad Ali was the greatest sporting icon ever," Hamilton said.

"He was always someone to look up to. He has inspired me so much throughout my life. It is why I got a tattoo of him on my right calf.

"But there have been many great sporting icons who, like Ali, have utilised their position and stood for so much more, taking a stand against what was expected and going against the grain.

"Muhammad risked everything for what he believed. I found that really inspiring, to be honest, having read their stories."

Hamilton says he had the good fortune of meeting Muhammed Ali who sadly passed away in 2016 at the age of 74, severely diminished by Parkinson's disease.

"I didn’t grow up in the period when Ali was fighting," explained the Mercedes driver. "And when I met him, I had seen all these videos and read so much about him. I couldn’t wait to see that character when I met him a few years ago.

"But sadly, he was fighting a horrible disease so he was silent, and I don’t know if he knew what was happening. My granddad had dementia, so I know what it is like to be around someone going through something as horrible as that. But I was so in awe."

Ali's humanitarianism and politics, and the values they embody, are not only fuel for thought but also a call to action insists Hamilton.

"I have met a lot of people and heard stories from many, saying they hoped they could one day get into something because they have seen what others have been able to do," said the 90-time Grand Prix winner.

"That equal representation of our histories is one of the most important things and it comes from telling stories of what figures like Muhammad Ali have done.

"I want to encourage schools to do more with their history-telling because there are lots of bad parts of history and lots of good parts.

"I think that some of the people running these sports have been very nervous to get into politics or feel like they are going to get embroiled in a political row. But it is not really about politics, it is human rights and standing for something," Hamilton added.

"It has been great to see what is happening in the Premier League. And in America, it is great to see what is happening in the NFL and other sports. Initially, I didn’t think Formula 1 was going to get involved. I am really grateful I was able to engage them and they have been so forthcoming.

"It is really about pulling down the guards in front of our eyes and seeing that we have this great platform. It can continue to be a great sport. But as Nelson Mandela said: Sport has the ability to change the world."

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