Boxer Muhammad Ali appears to take jab at Trump over Muslim comments

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Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali Takes a Jab at Donald Trump

WASHINGTON, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Former boxing champion Muhammad Ali, one of the best-known U.S. Muslims, appeared on Wednesday to join the chorus condemning the proposal by Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump to temporarily stop Muslims from entering the country.

"We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda,"Ali, 72, said in a statement that appeared in a report by NBC News headlined: "Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States," but did not actually name Trump.

SEE ALSO:People confess how they really feel about Donald Trump's ban on Muslims

The Louisville, Kentucky-born Ali, a three-time world heavyweight champion who joined the Nation of Islam in 1964 and later converted to Sunni Islam, also took aim at Islamist extremists.

See photos of Muhammad Ali through the years:

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Muhammad Ali through the years
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Boxer Muhammad Ali appears to take jab at Trump over Muslim comments
American boxer and sometime actor Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) as Eric Sevareid interviews him during an episode of the CBS Evening News, New York, March 24, 1964. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 2,1980: Muhammad Ali (L) throws a punch against Larry Holmes during the fight at Caesars Palace, on October 2,1980 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Larry Holmes won the WBC heavyweight title by a RTD 10. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images)
JUL 14 1981; Ali, Muhammad (Boxer) - Ind.; (Photo By Lyn Alweis/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
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"I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world," Ali said in the statement. "True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion."

"I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people's views on what Islam really is," he said.

Robert Gunnell, a spokesman for Ali, said later the statement "was not a direct response to Donald Trump. This statement was Muhammad Ali's belief that Muslims must reject Jihadist extremist views."

Asked by Reuters why the headline on the statement was later changed to "Statement from Muhammad Ali Calling on all Muslims to Stand Up Against Jihadist Radical Agenda," Gunnell said in an email it was "not meant toward Trump so we edited the headline."

Trump, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the November 2016 presidential election, has been harshly criticized by world leaders and fellow Republicans for saying on Monday that Muslims, including would-be immigrants, students and tourists, should be blocked from entering the country.

His proposal followed last week's deadly shootings in San Bernardino, California, last week by a married couple inspired by Islamic State militants.

RELATED: Read Trump's reaction to the president's address on terrorism

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Trump tweet reacts to Obama's ISIS speech
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Boxer Muhammad Ali appears to take jab at Trump over Muslim comments
BIG NIGHT ON TWITTER TONIGHT. I WILL BE LIVE TWEETING PRESIDENT OBAMA'S SPEECH AT 7:50 P.M. ( EASTERN). MUST TALK RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM!
I will be re-tweeting some of your better, most imaginative and hopefully insightful tweets. Make them good (great)! Important stuff.
Hillary won't call out radical Islam! She will be soundly defeated.
The podium in the Oval Office looks odd! Not good, but the words will be the key.
Hope he won't spend too much time ripping apart the 2nd. Amendment!
"@dboiarsky: @realDonaldTrump MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, DT! đź‘Ť"
"@10inchpolitics: @realDonaldTrump air strikes? Who's air strikes??"
"@JFK4701: @realDonaldTrump he is reading off the TelePrompTer." But that is O.K. in this case.
"@homefreeee: @realDonaldTrump He needs to stop all Visas not look at them!"
Is that all there is? We need a new President - FAST!
Wish Obama would say ISIS, like almost everyone else, rather than ISIL.
Should have gone after the oil years ago (like I have been saying).
Well, Obama refused to say (he just can't say it), that we are at WAR with RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISTS.
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