Muhammad Ali just threw a big counterpunch at Donald Trump.
In response to Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, Ali delivered a statement to NBC News on Wednesday that called out "those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda."
Here is Ali's full statement:
I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world. True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.
We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda. They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody.
Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, 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.
Although the former champion doesn't cite Trump by name, NBC reported that Ali's statement was headlined "Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States."
During his speech Sunday from the Oval Office Sunday, President Obama said, "Muslim-Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes."
Trump responded with a tweet wondering who these Muslim athletes might be, even though he has met Ali several times and even referred to him as a friend in the caption of an Instagram photo.
Obama said in his speech that Muslims are our sports heroes. What sport is he talking about, and who? Is Obama profiling?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2015
Trump continues to lead in the polls among Republican presidential candidates. But leaders in the GOP, including the party chairman and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, ripped him for the anti-Muslim proposal. It was also a Republican president, George W. Bush, who honored Ali with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.