When Muhammad Ali brought 15 hostages back from Iraq - as told by John Legend

Credit: Carlo Allegri

Credit: Carlo Allegri

Muhammad Ali's death early morning on Saturday, June 4, 2016 brought back memories of the world's most well known athlete, boxing's greatest champion and a civil rights pioneer.

He was also an ambassador who used his fame to help others. In 1990, Ali traveled to Iraq after Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of Kuwait. Hussein took 15 American hostages from a local General Motors branch and placed them in strategic bombing locations, using them as human shields. Ali's visit to Iraq was documented by ESPN in a documentary called "Ali: The Mission," narrated by Springfield native John Legend.

Despite being in the midst of his battle with Parkinson's Disease, Ali traveled to Baghdad. For a week, he waited for a meeting with Hussein while running out of medication.

After four months of captivity, Ali returned to the U.S. in December 1990 with the 15 hostages. The Gulf War started six weeks later.

About the Author