Reflecting on the political legacy of Muhammad Ali

A look back at the legendary life and death of boxing icon Muhammad Ali would not be complete without an examination of Ali's outspoken stance on politics and how his African American heritage and Muslim faith informed his steadfast beliefs.

"He was arguably the greatest fighter of all time," Ali biographer Thomas Hauser said on CBS' "Face the Nation." But the boxer's social commentary also stood out: "Every time he looked in the mirror and said 'I'm so pretty,' what he was really saying before it became fashionable was 'black is beautiful.' When he refused induction in the United States Army, he stood up for the proposition that unless you have a very good reason for killing people, war is wrong."

Hauser relayed a story of Ali's scathing insight -- even back in the 1990s -- into Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. While the two were attending a dinner at one of Trump's properties, Hauser said, "at one point in the evening, Muhammad leaned over and whispered to me, 'he's not as big as he thinks he is.'"

"That was one of many times when Muhammad was right," he said.

"But I think in the end his greatest contribution might have been that there was an aura of pure good will and love about him," Hauser continued. "He taught us how to love."

New York Times sports columnist Bill Rhoden added that Ali brought those contributions to African Americans around the country.

"The black community is complex. There are a lot of ways to be black," Rhoden said. "What I think Ali stood for was that at the end of the day it's about defending black people. Caring for black people. Fighting for black people."

Commenting on Parkinson's disease and the fight with the disease that eventually took Ali's life, Hauser said "It was sad to watch, really, this long, sad goodbye."

But, he said, "what's happening now is that a time of mourning is moving into a time of celebration. Don't cry because he's gone, smile because we had him."

Of the legend's death, Rhoden said: "I never thought I'd feel this sad. I knew this was coming but I find myself feeling a lot sadder than I thought I would."