Muhammad Ali's Longtime Manager Remembered
Entrepreneur also was son of Nation of Islam founder
By James Kimberly, Chicago Tribune reporter
For hours, they came Saturday to the Salaam Restaurant on Chicago's South Side to pay their respects to Jabir Herbert Muhammad, son of former Nation of Islam Minister Elijah Muhammad and manager to legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.
More than 200 people filled the seats and stood at the rear of the ornate banquet room on the second floor. Current Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan was there. So was Ali, whose presence electrified the room despite the ravages of Parkinson's disease.
Muhammad, 79, was remembered as a man of devout Islamic faith and a visionary sports manager. He died Monday after heart surgery at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago.
"If the history is written correctly, Herbert Muhammad should go down as one of the greatest sports managers of all times," said Gene Kilroy, who was Ali's business manager.
Kilroy said Muhammad negotiated contracts worth millions of dollars for Ali at a time when stars of other sports were earning five-figure salaries.
Muhammad was an entrepreneur who established many businesses, including a bakery, restaurant, dry cleaner and the Nation of Islam newspaper, Muhammad Speaks. Muhammad also was once a close associate and business partner of convicted political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko, but that relationship ended badly and is now the subject of a lawsuit alleging trusts set up by Muhammad were looted, Muhammad's attorney told the Tribune last week.
Farrakhan said all American Muslims owe a debt of gratitude to the Muhammad family because they took "the name Muhammad at a time when the name was mocked and scorned."
They adhered to Islamic customs in their dress before the practice was accepted, Farrakhan said.
Ali's wife, Lonnie, said Muhammad was a confidant and spiritual adviser to her husband.
"Sort of like a big brother, because it was a crazy and turbulent time in the '60s and '70s when Muhammad [Ali] was in his prime," she said.
Muhammad managed Ali's career for 25 years, and although the two battled in court over finances during the 1990s, they remained close friends, Lonnie Ali said.
"It was a friendship made of stone to the end. No matter what their differences were, they were friends to the end—like brothers, like blood brothers," she said.
Orignal article here
Also see Obituary.